Monday, June 16, 2008

Hinsdale Art Fair Report

This is a beautiful setting, on grass in Burlington Park across from the train station. The city of Hinsdale is upscale and beautiful and the load in is really convenient. This was my third year to show here...the first year was good enough to make me want to come back. The second year was terrible, I didn't even cover my expenses.

This year a SEVERE STORM came through Sunday morning around 7:00 AM with high straight line winds and nickel size hail. It took down nine tents...and destroyed a lot of art. I was in my car watching as TENTS BECAME KITES. All the severely damaged tents were EASY UPs (brand)...a few others suffered some damage but survived. One man lost all his oil paintings, they were flying in the air along with his tent. Another fabric artist came in to find all her beautiful things laying soaked in the mud and her tent over to the side looking like an erector set!!

There was an empty space across from me on Saturday and after the storm hit on Sunday there was a tent setting in that space on it's side crumpled up. It had tumbled or flown across from the other side of the park (an Easy Up with 4 gallon jugs tied to it for weights). I saw it fly into my tent and was sure I would have damage to my front or perhaps the roof...but luckily, I had left my awning frame up and the wayward tent hit the awning frame instead of my tent walls. There were trees down all over town.

I know I promised you photos and believe me I should have taken some of the damage! Perhaps it would instill a visual in your minds the next time you set up your EASY UP or any other tent at an art fair and don't properly and adequately weight and steak it down.

After the rain quit enough to get my camera out I was more concerned with whether I was going to try to get set up for the day or call my brother to come and help me take down. There was another Severe Storm Front expected in the early afternoon...forecasted to arrive around 3:00 and after what I had just witnessed...I DIDN'T WANT TO BE THERE WHEN IT CAME.

It takes me around an hour to pack up my art and get it into the van...and another hour and a half to get my tent down and in the van. My art had been packed away for the night so that part was done. I just couldn't see pulling it all out and hanging it for a couple of hours...because I was definitely going to be out of there before this second storm front came in!! So I went ahead and broke down early...not showing Sunday at all. Had Sunday been a good day, the show could have paid off. There was a fairly good crowd there as I was breaking down.

We took our time taking down letting the tent dry some. It was around 1:30 when I pulled out of town and when I got a ways out I could see the clouds building. This is the first time I've ever left a show early...but you have to weigh the circumstances. I went through some of the worst rain and wind I've ever driven in on the way home. So I know they were hit. I only hope everyone had ample notice and got their things packed up in time.

Some advise and please, please listen...for the safety of your tent and your art as well as the safety of others. This past weekend, other properly staked and weighted tents were damaged by the ones the wind took. When you don't use good sense everyone pays! I've seen it happen time and time again...and the weather doesn't have to be as bad as it was this weekend.

Take into consideration the weight of your tent. My tent (Trimline by the Flourish Company) is one of the heavier out there. The polls are all steal, not aluminum. If you can get "stay bars" for your tent, do it...they do wonders to stabilize your tent...even for an Easy Up. THINK about what you are using as weights and stakes.

Cylinder Weights are useless hanging from the corners of your tent...absolutely useless. Think about it, the wind starts to sway your tent and these cylinder weights sway with it...actually working with the wind. (Lay them on the ground, figure out some way to attach a rope in the center of the weight so when the tent shifts it will be pulling up on the entire weight of the cylinder not just one end.)

When I can't use stakes I use six (6) forty pound weight bags filled with attached to the lower leg joints at each corner and the other two are attached to the stay-bars on the sides. They lay on the ground so the wind has to "lift" them up along with the weight of the tent. I still worry, but it's all that will fit into my fact, I do very few art fairs where I can't use stakes.

Tent Stakes...The ones I see used most often (and the ones provided with my tent) are about 10-12 inches long and usually pounded straight into holes in the foot plate of each leg. These will keep the tent leg from moving sideways but will not hold your tent to the ground in even a small storm. When the tent pulls upwards the stakes will come right out.

Screw in Stakes...(sometimes referred to as dog tie outs) work pretty good, certainly better than the ones mentioned above. You can then use a ratchet tie down attached to the roof frame and anchor each corner to the ground. The problem I ran into was trying to get them in when the ground was hard from no rain...or in rocky soil. You just can't get them in the ground. I've even had a man try and he broke it off in the ground.

Custom Stakes...I guess you would have to say this is what I have. I saw a "metal artist" pounding in a two(2) foot stake one time and ask where he got it...smiling, he said he made it. I immediately ordered a set of four. They're about an inch in diameter and have an "eye" at the top where you can hook a "pull bar" to get them out. I've never felt so secure. I pound them in at an angle on all four corners and attach ratchet tie downs.
Lastly...simply pay attention to the weather. Check out the forecast before you leave or have someone at home doing it for you. When I know storms are expected I always have someone keeping an eye on the weather channel and they call me...I know to prepare and batten things down.

Protect your art. Don't leave it hanging when storms are in the forecast. My smaller framed art and loose prints are in crates with locking handles and taped shut...for added security, and the larger framed pieces are put in the "Stiffy Bags" I spoke of in my last post. My originals are taken to the van each night. I don't leave anything to chance and so far I've been very fortunate.

I know this has been a long post...but it is something I'm passionate about. Most of what I said is just common sense and I hope I didn't offend.

I'll keep you updated about my future art next one is this weekend in Danville, Ill...scattered thunder storms are in the forecast for Friday and Saturday again. I'm hoping this changes by the time the weekend gets here. I promise I will make a special effort to have pictures this time.

Thanks to everyone who said that "special prayer" for may not have kept the severe weather away but certainly kept me and my art work safe.

Website ...Marsha Robinett Fine Art
My Squidoo ...Drawing Techniques

PS...make a "Point"...leave a comment


Jeanette said...

I think you made a wise decision to leave early with weather like that brewing.

Your post is full of good advice for people who do the art fair circuit. I don't do it here, simply because such a thing just doesn't exist in the same format as there. However, its good to know this information when I do have outdoor exhibitions.

Good luck with this weekend. I will hope for good weather for you

Cindy said...

Wow....what a weekend, huh? I hope you don't have any more experiences like this last one.

Marsha Robinett said...

Thanks for the comments...heading out again later today. Thunderstorms are in the forecast, but no severe least not now.

Will report back the first of the week. Hopefully no weather like last weekend!

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