Many of us do a variety of shows inside and outside. Outdoor festivals have their own unique set of challenges, however, so it’s important to prepare thoroughly.
On the upside, outdoor events are often very festive, they have music and food and a lot going on and they lend themselves to earning more money (depending on your products).
We do 3 outdoor craft fairs every year that are among my favorites, not only for the earnings but the atmosphere.
As much as I love our outdoor events, over the years we’ve learned some painful lessons about what not to do. We’ve faced beating sun, pouring rain, and high winds. The joys of the Midwest – we can experience all of these in a short few hour time span! 🙂
What follows is a survival guide for outdoor craft shows including a checklist and tips for how to survive rain, wind and other weather hazards.
So, if you are thinking of setting up outdoors and haven’t done it very often, or at all yet, let’s give you the confidence you need to have a fantastic experience.
Here are my top tips for protecting your products and getting the most out of your event!
Surviving Outdoor Craft Fairs
The most important thing you can do is have a waterproof canopy WITH side walls. You want the walls to not only protect against rain but also the wind and sun. If the sun comes into your booth at an angle, it can damage and fade your items over time.
Yes, they are pricey. They are an investment and believe me when I tell you those side walls are worth the extra money spent. You also don’t want a cheap Box-Mart canopy. You need a good, sturdy frame EZ-Up or comparable canopy or you’ll be replacing it much more often.
Once you have a sturdy canopy you have to weigh it down properly on all four sides. It needs to be tethered, not just have weights placed around the bottom. This helps promote stability and without proper weights, those large tops can act as a sail, pick that canopy up and bend or twist the frame even in light winds.
If you are leaving items overnight, always lower your canopy, keep one table up and put all of your products into a large bin underneath tables. We also put plastic on the ground around our set up. Even if it doesn’t rain, morning dew can also be problematic. A large sheet of rolled plastic is essential. We also put down towels on our tables and cover the tops with plastic.
Use strong metal clamps to hold your plastic down on your tables. Place something heavy on opposite corners of the ground plastic to ensure it stays put. All of these steps ensure a faster set-up the following morning with no soggy tables, table covers etc.
If you can manage to take cinder blocks with you – great. These are very heavy though, so there are other options like sandbag weights that you can fill that look nicer and are less awkward to carry and lift. We have even used the round weights from my husband’s weight bench. The round weights sit flat and are easier to lift and maneuver than cinder blocks.
Outdoor Craft Show Checklist
These are the things you must have in addition to your regular craft fair gear. Like I said, outdoor events are a bit more cumbersome and require meticulous planning.
- Canopy and sidewalls
- A weather radio or app on your phone. Be sure you have good cell service if relying on an app.
- Heavy plastic sheeting (look in the garden section) with heavy duty scissors or a sharp razor knife to cut as needed.
- Paper Towels
- Weights (for your canopy and your displays if they can blow away easily)
- Clear Tape and Duct Tape
- First aid kit (I always seem to pinch/scrape etc. when doing outdoor events)
- Extension cords and a grounded surge protector outlet (if you use electricity)
- Shower curtain liners (these make great fast cover-ups for light mist/drizzle when you don’t want to completely cover everything…
- Water-proof containers to store your things under tables
This is the style of canopy we use. What I like about this model is that it is fairly sturdy, but you can also purchase protection that will help should your canopy be damaged or defective. I’ve used cheaper models, but end up replacing them quickly. A good EZ up with proper care (and hopefully no severe storms) can last for several seasons.
Remember to tether and weight them properly and you can expect to get good use from them.