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Special Events


Last month, we looked at case histories of elaborate event installations. Here, we offer a brief checklist of points to keep in mind when your setup is only temporary.


  • Mobile kitchens range in size from a 24-foot bumper tow to a 70-foot tractor-trailer combination. Does your site provide adequate clearances?

  • Is the mobile kitchen you are using “self-contained”? On-board utilities such as propane, potable water and gray-water holding are all necessary considerations depending on your location and equipment capability.

  • Is the mobile kitchen layout and equipment provided conducive to your menu and level of service? For example, some commercial units have on-board walk-in refrigeration while others use added refrigeration units, leaving more room in the kitchen for additional cooking equipment.

  • Can any food be prepped in advance? Most mobile kitchens have a lot of cooking horsepower in a confined space and are basically made for production, not prep.

  • Does the mobile kitchen have local health and fire department approvals?

  • Have you included the cost of transportation and setup? The charges usually consist of an hourly rate plus a flat mileage rate; it is best to get a fixed estimate included in your contract.


  • Does the fencing suit the need? Long runs of fencing that are out of guests' sight can use simple rolled plastic barrier fencing. High-security areas, such a entrances, may require durable galvanized steel barricades. Upscale VIP areas with lower security needs may benefit from PVC white picket fencing.

  • Has the crowd been delineated and routed? True crowd control isn't about providing a barrier around a tent or event area; it's about creating security and a smooth flow of traffic. This involves strategic placement of barriers, stanchions and fencing. It is often more effective to divide and sort crowds before arrival at a ticket or credential check, or a concession area.

  • Can you use space to create security? Inexpensive net fencing can be used to set off a “no man's land” where those who decide to test the limits will be readily visible to event security.


  • Do you have the right workers and equipment on setup? If they have not used the flooring before, the workers will need time to learn about the product. Make sure you understand that people will work faster at the beginning, but will slow down at the end of a large project. To move the product around, make sure you have a forklift, pallet jack and the right people to work the machinery.

  • Do you know specifics of the ground beneath the flooring? If the floor is going outdoors, know what type of ground you will be working with, the slope of the ground, where you will stage the production and the weather for the entire event. If a sub base is needed, make sure it will be completed before the install starts and it is built correctly. If working over ice, create a barrier that will keep the cold and moisture away from the playing surface, or melt the ice before the install starts.

  • Have you planned for maintenance? When the surface is completed, make sure that you have a team ready to clean the floor, if needed. Keep this team available for cleaning after or before the event; this will keep the floor looking good and keep the surface clean from debris.


  • Do you have a complete list of what items you want power for, including voltage and amperage?

  • Is there appropriate access and adequate space for the generators?

  • Can you specify how long the generators will run so that refueling can be addressed? Also, will you have a technician available during those hours?

  • Is the power requirement critical to the extent that uninterruptible power — or a dual pack — is required?

  • Is there utility power available that could be distributed?


  • Whom do you expect to attend, and will food and beverages (particularly alcohol beverages) be served? One restroom per 50 guests is a rule of thumb; however, women spend three times longer than men per visit.

  • Are water and electric lines available within 100 feet? If not, the vendor can bring in supply lines.

  • Do you need a sub floor beneath the restrooms to make up for ground that isn't level?

  • Will you offer appropriate trained, uniformed attendants to ensure cleanliness and service?

  • What facilities will the event crew need? Do you want the facilities out of sight in a tent?


  • Where will the stage be located? Outside settings may need proper legs and bracing. If inside, what type of surface will the stage be placed upon, and is any special protection needed to prevent damage to that surface?

  • How will the stage be loaded? Portable staging normally carries an evenly distributed load capacity of 150 pounds per square foot. Special uses (e.g., auto shows or trade shows) may concentrate loads on certain parts of the stage. Identify special load requirements so that proper bracing and additional reinforcement of deck tops may occur.

  • What type of codes will be enforced at the location? Does the deck top need to be fireproofed? Will guard railing be required on stages at specific heights?

  • Are any special requirements needed for the stage? Will separate sound wings be required? How many accesses are required, and where will they be in relation to the building or the landscape? Is there enough room in those areas to effectively access the stairs safely?

  • Will the stage block any emergency exits to the building? What fire codes may that impact, and what steps must be taken to alleviate that situation?

  • Will the stage need to be accessible to the disabled? If so, what types of limitations need to be considered if a ramp is required? (One foot of ramp run is needed to accommodate each inch of stage height. Therefore, a 3-foot-high stage requires 36 feet of ramp plus at least one mid-ramp rest platform.)


  • Have you evaluated the event's needs, goals and budget to determine what sort of tenting is appropriate: structure, pole, frame?

  • What physical restrictions does the site present: trees, power lines, uneven surface, wet areas, underground obstructions (e.g., pipes)? How can the tent be delivered and carried to the site?

  • What permit, planning and zoning requirements does the site present? Will engineering reports be required?

  • What are the expected and historical weather and wind conditions?

  • Do the caterer and other vendors need tenting for their personnel or equipment?


  • What site constraints affect all vendors you are using: surface conditions, parking for staff, adequate storage for equipment, proper utilities?

  • Have you established a timeline for installation and removal of all vendor equipment? You don't want the florist arriving before the tent is up.

Thanks to Bill Bie of Aztec Tents & Events for his advice for this article.

RESOURCES: Aggreko Event Services (power), 800/443-2447; Aztec Tents & Events (tents), 310/328-5060; Bil-Jax (staging), 419/445-8915; Black Tie Services (restrooms), 815/834-2194; Kohler Event Services (power), 920/207-6238; OK's Cascade Co. (catering), 800/458-8061; Portafloor/Sport Court (portable flooring), 801/972-0260; Signature (Fencing) Systems (fencing), 212/953-1116

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