NEW MATERIALS AND INNOVATIVE technologies are transforming event tents. But tent manufacturers note that effective tent use is still firmly grounded in good old-fashioned care and safety.
Manufacturers point to peaks as the high point on the tent design horizon. According to Suzanne Warner, co-owner of Surrey, British Columbia-based Tentnology, her company's cross-cable, high-centerpiece tension tent “has really revolutionized the tent industry.” Warner says Tentnology engineers “use the fabric itself as a structural element.” This process, she explains, “creates the really tight, gorgeous, curvaceous silhouettes that you see in our tents,” and she names rock festivals Lollapalooza and Lilith Fair among recent clients.
Ralph Manuel of Torrance, Calif.-based Anza Tents also touts high-peaked tents as his company's hottest sellers. According to Manuel, corporate clients and street fair organizers are fans of peaked tents, which, he says, offer a “much different profile, with a sense of spaciousness and high visibility.”
Peaked tents aren't just pretty on the outside. Mary Ann Mays, advertising and marketing manager for Evansville, Ind.-based Anchor Industries, says that in addition to an elegant appearance, her company's peaked-tent interiors “lend well to decoration and offer wonderful acoustics.”
WEATHER OR NOT
Gaining popularity are tents that take advantage of Mother Nature without letting Mother Nature take advantage of them.
Norah deBekker of Kennesaw, Ga.-based De Boer Structures says she's been seeing a lot of interest in her company's Chalet and Acropolis clear-span structures. With their clear walls, the structures allow for maximum visibility, making them a good choice for events at sports tournaments, she says. As an added bonus, both structures have an integrated gutter system, “which means rain doesn't pour down on the side of the tent,” she adds.
According to James G. Reyen, national sales manager for Binghamton, N.Y.-based Eureka! Tents, his company has been working on new improvements in the engineering of tent tops “to assure that they are tight, do not flap in the wind and will shed water more effectively.”
When it comes to weather, proper tent installation and maintenance is as important as solid engineering, adds Alex Kouzmanoff of Torrance, Calif.-based Aztec Tents & Events. “Never underestimate Mother Nature,” he says. “If the wind can blow, it will. Always be prepared to fortify your anchoring, and have on-site tent staffing in wind-prone areas and during foul weather.”
STAND AND DELIVER
Top tent-makers are focusing on technologies that help tents stand stronger, last longer and pack smarter.
Improvements to Eureka's Twin Tube fittings have made them “much stronger than conventional fittings,” without increasing their size, according to Reyen. The new fittings “give event planners the confidence that the tent will perform, while not taking away from the aesthetic of the venue.”
George Strickland, district sales manager for Greenwich, Conn.-based United Rentals Special Events, says that his company is moving into coated materials and away from laminates in order to “increase durability and the life of our [tent] fleet.”
According to Warner, Tentnology's packing system saves users money on transportation costs. She explains that a typical 20-by-20-foot Tentnology tent packs down into three small units: a box the size of a milk crate, a small bundle of tubes, and the tent top, which is “about the size of a small desktop.”
SAFE AND SOUND
As important as how you choose tents is how you use the tents you choose, manufacturers say.
“Anchorage, anchorage, anchorage” is Warner's safe-tenting refrain. “People don't like to hear that, because that's the unromantic, unglamorous side of tenting, but [a tent] really has to be attached to terra firma.”
Tom Shapiro of Los Angeles-based Academy Tent and Canvas, which offers Qwik Canopies, Fastracks and pop-up tents among other structures, cautions tent-users to “follow engineering codes and do soil testing when applicable” in order to ensure a sound installation.
Pat Moughan, national sales manager for Losberger U.S., which sells frame tents exclusively, advises users to pay attention to tent care along with tent safety. He cautions event professionals to use dropcloths when taking tents down over muddy ground, and thoroughly dry wet tents before storing to prevent mildew and stains. “These tents will last a lifetime,” Moughan promises, “but you need to take care of them.”
RESOURCES: Academy Tent and Canvas, 800/228-3687, 323/277-8368; Anchor Industries, 800/544-4445, 812/867-2421; Anza Tents, 888/637-8086, 310/320-6200; Aztec Tents & Events, 800/258-7368, 310/328-5060; De Boer Structures, 877/533-2637, 770/792-1085; Eureka! Tents, 800/235-2607, 607/779-2200; Losberger U.S., 800/964-8368, 301/682-8000; Tentnology, 800/663-8858, 604/597-8368; United Rentals Special Events, 800/522-8368, 407/423-8447.