I believe that every wedding or major event has to have at least one thing go wrong. If you are lucky, it is a small thing that you can look back on and laugh about.. if only a couple months after the fact. And as of today, I am advancing my theorem that art shows and art show setups are the same way..
I had taken the precaution of taking my tent out of its bag a couple of weeks ago and doing a partial setup to make sure everything was working and I remembered where everything was supposed to go. I carefully loaded up the car this morning, going through the new booth floor plan in my head to make sure I wasn't missing anything I needed. And I packed a bunch of extra 'just-in-case' tools and supplies... just in case. I had also been watching the weather over the last couple days, and there were supposed to be scattered thunderstorms in the evening and through the night- fortunately ending around the time the show is supposed to open tomorrow. I figured my big concern was going to be the wind, since we have had some fearsome gusty thunderstorms over the last month, so I planned on only setting up my display partially so I could keep the tent lowered and zipped up so it would be less vulnerable to gusts. With all this prep work, I figured I was pretty well prepared.
I got to my booth site and with my mom and dad's help unloaded the car and started setting up the tent. And problem number one reared its ugly head. One of my tent top cross-braces snapped as we were popping up the tent. Apparently there had been a flaw in the coating and water had gotten in and rusted the cross-brace right around the bolt hole, so as soon as pressure was put on it, it broke. And this tent is less than a year old! May still be under warranty, will have to check on that.. Still I am less than happy with E-Zup right now.
I was lucky that this problem didn't seem to affect the structure of the tent (though if I come in to a crumpled heap of canvas and metal tomorrow morning, I reserve the right to take that back), but now there was this ragged-edged bar of metal hanging down around customer-head-height in the front of my tent. And since most potential customers I have met seem to have strange objections to being clouted in the head with a sharp and ragged piece of metal... (Mental note- add duct tape to my just-in-case toolkit for tomorrow morning!)
The rest of the setup went pretty smoothly, no rain yet! I managed to get all the boxes and bags pulled under the tent and put three of the sidewalls up, so if it started raining I would be relatively protected. Whew!! I put up the tables and put the feet on the racks, though I didn't set the racks upright or connect them since I wanted to be able to lay everything flat so I could lower the tent when I left. I tucked my boxed artwork in under the table and covered the table with plastic sheeting since the tent roof tends to drip a little when it is rained on excessively (another peeve of mine about E-Zup- they call their tent roofs 'water-resistant'- a misleading term which is not the same thing as 'waterproof'. My older E-Zup never leaked, but this one dripped quite a bit last time I had it out in a shower. I didn't get a chance to do a seam-sealing on it before this show, which may or may not help?)
By this time I figured I had done about all I could do to protect everything from wind and the possibility of the roof dripping a bit. So I zipped up the last wall, grabbed my extra hardware and headed to the car.
I had a couple errands to run in the area, and as I finished the last one the sky darkened up and it started to rain. No, not rain- POUR. Not scattered thunderstorms as expected, but a monsoon. I realized- as I was starting to drive home and was seeing all the sides of the roads filling up with lakes from the water coming down too fast to drain completely away in time- that while I had done my best to make the tent wind-proof, I had left my artwork boxes stacked on the ground. Right along the curb. In the path of the drainage of the flood waters. Now, my boxes are plastic with seamless bottom, but they have lids that probably would not be waterproof if completely immersed. And I had no desire to test that 'probably', since those boxes contained my entire inventory of artwork. PAPER artwork. Which generally does not deal well with getting wet. So I decided instead of staying up all night envisioning my years of work in those boxes going swimming, I was going to go back and check on things before the water situation got any worse.
That is the end of the drama however- when I got back to the tent everything was fine. The tent hadn't blown over, and the boxes weren't drowning. I picked them up and stacked them off the ground anyway just to be safe, then re-covered them with plastic to protect from drips. And then I left to go home. Again.
Hopefully everything will still be fine tomorrow when I get on-site. And here's hoping the weather forecast was right and tomorrow will be gorgeous. And lots of folks will come out. And buy out my entire inventory!!! OK, maybe a LITTLE too optimistic.. :)