Craft Shows in Windy Conditions, Advice for Vendors

In my last post Craft Fair Displays, Wind and a Bad, Pretty Idea, I talked about a recent show we attended and how those shelves made from shutters may be pretty but are dangerous to both people and handcrafted items. I thought I would also share some additional things that we observed while attending a fall craft fair in Maggie Valley on a particularly windy day.

First let me explain the conditions…it was a beautiful sunny day, warm but not hot, and windy, very windy. The wind was blowing almost constantly but it was the prolonged gusts that really made things dangerous.

Take Craft Show Tents Down in Windy Conditions

What really surprised me was that none of the venders thought to simply take their tents down. The husband of a watercolorist suggested taking it down but while we were there they had not done so. We even offered to take his place, holding down the tent, while he went to the car to get his tools – his wife opted to continue using the tent. Weather conditions that day did not call for tents to ward off a scorching sun or rain. They became great big sails for the wind to pick up, shake and try to blow away. They became a huge liability and made the entire event very unsafe.

Craft Show Displays Using Tent Supports & Walls

Vendors who relied upon their tents to hold up displays were really in trouble. The wind would shake the tent and the displays were swinging, constantly tilting and often falling over. Seems like a good windy weather strategy would be to have a plan B in mind for any displays which rely upon tent posts or tent sides for support. That plan B might have to include pulling that merchandise from the show rather than risk losing it to breakage. I doubt anyone attending the show would have minded having to look through a storage tote rather than a pretty display rack. I know, I would have felt more comfortable with a less-attractive display if it meant less things flying around and kept the items more protected.

Metal, Rotating Craft Show Display Racks

I would pack a few clean bricks or rocks in my vehicle. Those metal, rotating racks are quite easily knocked over and something as simple as placing a few bricks or other weighted items around the base might keep them from tipping over. Another option might be to tie them onto the tables. Putting them on the ground seemed like a good idea but it appeared that display racks on the ground were even more apt to topple over.

Craft Show Display Racks of All Kinds

Items hung on racks were the most vulnerable. If the rack itself didn’t fall over, the items flapped in the wind or flew off the displays completely. We watched as jewelry and hand-painted notecards sailed off of the racks onto the ground. The one saving grace for those crafters and artisans was that the event was held in a grassy field so their items did not break or get damaged in the falls. Again, artisans and crafters should have a wind plan in place when using craft show display racks that have merchandise hanging from them. It would seem like a good strategy would be to create some sort of attachment for the racks that would keep the items from being removed from the rack. The attachment should be designed to be easily removed by customers and venders but larger than the holes the items are hung from.

Craft Show Booths – Design for Maximum Airflow

Vendors with the tent sides down or shelving that blocked airflow through the tent were having the most problems. Those were the ones where most of the husbands or male vendors were using their own weight to keep the tents from sailing off into the wind. There were a number of times that I and other fair goers grabbed onto tent supports in hopes of protecting both ourselves and the handcrafted items we were viewing. If planning for an outdoor event, consider how your craft show displays could block airflow and how you might be able to change the placement of things to allow the wind to flow through your booth.

General Advice for Dealing with a Windy Craft Show

If you are at a show in windy conditions, see if you can determine which way the wind is blowing. It might only take turning the orientation of a shelf or display to stop your items from becoming frisbees.

Evaluate your craft show displays and see if it might be prudent to take them down completely. If your tent becomes a liability, the best option may be to take it down.

Event organizers should allow for windy conditions and if tents are ‘required’ those requirements should be relaxed if necessary. At the event we attended in Maggie Valley, the wind made the tents truly unsafe. Obviously, craft fair organizers and vendors want the most attractive booths possible, but there are times when personal safety and protecting the handcrafted items should take precedence.

Want to share any war stories or ideas to deal with windy conditions at a craft fair or show? Please do, so that others can learn from your mistakes or cleverness.

A few suggestions for further reading...

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