Well, its getting to be that time of year when you never know when some nasty weather is going to show up. Last year I got a big dose of it at the Omaha Summer Arts Festival. On Friday afternoon, June 27, 2008, a storm rolled in and 85 MPH winds were reported. The first 2 images are what it did to my tent and display. I have had a lot of time to analyze this storm and another storm that I experienced the following weekend in Rockport, Texas. Could I have done anything different to have kept my tent upright? Maybe. I now use the canopy hooks that Propanels came out with last year. They secure the top of my display panels to the tent frame. I also replaced the velcro on the panels. After 6 years of use the stuff just didn't grip very good anymore. I now try to always to have the bottom sta bars attached on my Trimline tent. I then zip-tie the legs of the Propanels to them. I also use the zip-ties in the corners instead of velcro. Support bars from Propanels help keep it all square. I might add that fabric walls do nothing to strengthen the tent. Once all this is together there is very little movement from the tent or display when pushed on by myself or the wind. I've always had big weights on each leg of the tent and I'm not sure if more weight would have made a difference at Omaha. I feel that where you are located during a storm can have an effect on how well you survive it. You will notice that the line of tents to the left of me made it through the storm. The wind was coming from the left. Those tents were all side by side with only one of their sides exposed to the wind. My location was different. I only had the one tent next to me and that tent ended up behind me on the sidewalk. This left me totally exposed to the wind. Also, my tent is almost 2 feet taller than the normal height tent so that made it even more exposed. During the storm I ended up with nothing around me to deflect the wind or help hold me up.
Most of the artists were sent to the basement of a large office building during the storm. Finally they allowed us to leave and check on any damage to our work. The image above shows whats left of the big commercial tents near the music stage. What you can't see off to the right is part of the tent that is sticking into a second story window. This is the area of the show that we first saw after the storm. My booth was located about 50 yards from where this was taken at the intersection with Farnam Street which is where all the artists tents are located. I was a corner booth. The last artist tent before the intersection. The bottom image is looking down Farnam Street in the opposite direction from the picture of my tent. The upside down tents came from across the street while dragging large concrete weights. These weights were so heavy that they used a fork lift to load them after the show ended.
So! How did the rest of the show go? I got a lot of help picking up everything and cleaning it off from people I didn't even know. I hope I told them all how thankful I was. Then I found a place where I could bend my tent poles so they were reasonably straight again. By 11:00 that night I had it all set back up. Some inventory was ruined but I still had enough to get by and have a good show.
Thanks to Christine Hauber for the photos. See her work at http://www.workingintheusa.com/