Best canopies for shows

I will be doing my first outdoor show soon. I need to buy a canopy.
Please tell me what are the best canopies to consider? Which canopies
are considered best quality?

Diana Kirkpatrick

Hi Diana, It depends on how much you want to spend, and how many
shows you’ll be doing. I have a Trimline and like it very much. It’s
very heavy and takes longer to set up, but it’s very sturdy!..also,
more expensive. Easy ups are just that. Very easy to deal with and
less expensive, but nasty weather might be a problem. Pick your

good luck
Scott Verson
Metal & Stone Design

Get a light dome from Creative Energies. They are sturdy, shed rain
like a duck, hold up in high winds, attractive, have a minimum
number of pieces to set-up, one person can set them up.

Avoid, like the plague, and variation of an EZ Up. No matter what
they say about them they come with a myriad of problems that will
cost you money and grief down the line.


Hi Diana. Lots of us will recommend the Light Dome. It’ll cost about
a grand, but it’s worth every penny. It will protect you well and
reduce the possibility that your tent might damage your neighbor’s
stuff. An EZ-UP seems short-sighted and inadequate if you plan on
staying in the biz for awhile or have to deal with any serious
weather. The Light Dome has good resale value if you ever wanted to
sell it. Good luck!

Allan Mason

Look at the three major dome tents - Showoff by New Venture
products, Light Dome and Trimline by Flourish. There are advantages
to each one. Avoid EZ-up like the plague. There are good tents that
work like an EZ-up, and are well constructed. A decent canopy will
cost about $1000US.

In any case, the tent must be white. Most venues do not permit
colored tents.

Consider the weight of the tent - you will need to move it from your
vehicle and pick up all the parts. The weight variation in the tents
is dramatic. While a heavy tent is an advantage in windy weather, the
notion that you have to pick up several hundred pounds to get the
parts to your booth location is daunting.

My personal choice is the Show-off. It has an aluminum frame and I
can pick up the bag of poles myself. Others weigh two to three times
as much.

You will need weights. In the high mountain shows in Colorado, we
get real weather and most show organizers require tent weights. After
making a starter set of weights consisting of pvc pipe filled with
concrete, I have graduated to steel weights. I have two weights
suspended on a chain from each tent corner. We made them of 2 inch
square by 24 inches long. They weigh about 30 pounds each.

My pet peeve is exhibitors that set their weights on the ground or
that tie weight to their tents with bungee cord. It certainly keeps
the earth from moving, but doesn’t do any good for the tent. Some
folks use gallon water bottles to weight their tent. Water weighs
about 8 pounds and the bottles are ugly and a tripping hazard.

I’d recommend getting two awnings for your tent, front and side.
Vents are nice but a nuisance to open and close. I currently have the
skylight option on my tent. It lets in more light but also creates
glare on the top of my cases.

Look at the websites for each dome tent. They are wildly different
to set up.

This is a big decision. A good tent will last for six to eight
years. A well thought out tent is a good friend and your home on the

Welcome to the show circuit.

Judy Hoch

I think the ‘best’ canopy depends on where you plan on doing shows.
If I lived where it rained / stormed in summer, I’d invest in a
better canopy than my EZ UP. Fortunately, I live and do most of my
outdoor shows in Southern California near the coast - the worst
weather here is some morning fog and occasionally some heavy mist.
Once every couple of years I’ll have a windy show, then I bungee
cord my tent to my neighbor’s tents and we complain bitterly about
the ‘crazy weather’. So, for me an EZ UP is works quite well.

Bev - the metal weights that I like and use are homemade.

Here is how we made them.

We had the local steel yard cut two-inch square steel stock into
24-inch sections. Buy eight pieces.

Trim off the sharp edges with a hand held angle grinder.

Purchase heavy eyebolts and nuts from your local hardware store. We
used 0.25-inch bolts. Also, purchase s-hooks to attach weight to

Then using our drill press, we drilled a hole that is a bit smaller
than your eyebolt.

Tap the hole to match the threads on your eyebolt.

Screw a nut on the eyebolt, screw the bolt into the hole, and
tighten with the nut.

Remove grease with soap and hot water. Then if rusty, spray with
duro-extend to convert the rust. Then paint the steel with rust
preventative paint, we used grey Rustoleum.

Attach substantial s-hook to eye bolt by squeezing one end closed
around the eyebolt hole.

I use two weights per corner, suspended on substantial chain, which
is in turn suspended from the upper corner of the tent with a very
big s-hook.

To keep the weights from moving after suspended, I tie each one to
the tent leg with one of those elastic cords with a ball on the end.

We used two weights per corner to reduce the amount that I have to
pick up at once. The steel weighs about 1.1 pounds per inch with
2-inch stock so each weight is about 27 pounds.

The bad news is that steel is over a dollar a pound. The good news
is that these do not roll, they do not show much, and they really
weight down your tent. Being so dense, they don’t take up a lot of
room in your truck or trailer.

This type of weight was originally available commercially but I have
not seen them in five years.

Judy Hoch

Ok, I’m coming late to the conversation but what is wrong with
EZ-ups? (if I have the brand name right, there are knock-off
look-alikes which are flimsy to the point of being useless, I’m
talking about the ones with the locking concertina frames last heard
going for $250 Canadian from Costco) They have the sturdiest frame
of any 10x10 I’ve ever been in, a case with wheels, I can lift it by
myself (long enough to get it into a vehicle happily). It doesn’t
come with good guy-lines or stakes but that isn’t expensive to fix,
and it’s easy to hook lines to the frame (where they will do the
most good) which is better then a lot I’ve seen. They should be
resealed at the begining of every season but so should all tents;
there is a trick to folding everything to get it back into the case
neatly, but again, never met a tent that didn’t have that issue. They
can be put up by one person in under 20 minutes (discounting staking
time) and I’ve sat out the tail end of a hurricane in one happily;
considering it is a ‘sunshade’ and I’ve been tripping in all weather
tents that didn’t stand up to a hard sneeze I can’t see what the
complaints are, they seem to me to be an absolute bargin.

On the other hand I have not seen these ‘Light-dome’ tents which
everyone raves about, makes me wonder if they make coffee and do
your taxes. I ~think~ I’ve seen a Trimline, but it was a double sized
affiar so I dismissed it immediatly as not useful to me, also elderly
and cranky so also dismissed as not being a good example.

Norah Kerr

Ok, I'm coming late to the conversation but what is wrong with
EZ-ups? (if I have the brand name right 

The pool water in the canopy top, they come down E-Z ily in a rain

If you do limited shows in fair weather, it might do.

Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


Ok, I'm coming late to the conversation but what is wrong with
EZ-ups? (if I have the brand name right 

Everyone says they can collect water and come down. I opted for the
EZ Up because all of the shows I apply to are either under the “big
tent” or indoors. I guess you would have to evaluate it based on the
kinds of shows you are planning

Kim Starbard

Hi Norah,

I personally have an EZ-Up and am quite happy with it as well,
although I’ve never had to weather more than a simple rain with it.
Lots of people have them & are pleased with them. I certainly liked
the cost. I made 4 approx. 35lb weights, one hangs from each corner.
I used it once in a light wind without weights & the darn thing was
hopping all over the place, so now I won’t use it without them. I
know of folks who ended up with the more expensive types & would
never consider the EZ-Up again, even if it does take three times as
long to put up and it so much heavier to maneuver by onesself. I
think the main thing they like best about them is their ability to
not collect rain water on the roof. With the domed or vaulted
roofline, the water is more likely to slide off, and with the
pointed roof, the water has a place to collect, and if you don’t
remove it (like overnight when you aren’t there to do anything about
it) it will continue to collect until the tent simply collapses. Even
if you are there to do something about it, it’s rather annoying to
both customers & other vendors if you poke up at the tent roof &
allow a ton of water to suddenly be sent down to the ground. There
are ways to minimize the water risk, though. With the framing that
goes all around under the roof, one can slip a hula hoop up there
between the framing & the fabric to alter the drape of the roof &
give the rain fewer places in which to collect, that seems to work
well. The way their made now, though, it seems, there is no framing
in the ceiling, just one center pole (that’s how mine is, I bought it
last year). My neighor at the last show I did still used hula hoops
to help with the situation, though. She had 4 of them (all solid
yellow in color, so it didn’t stand out too much), cut them, and bent
them so the ends crossed, kind of like a fish shape. Hmm, this is
kind of hard to describe. She put each one so that the crossed ends
pointed down, and she lashed them to the center framing at the top of
each wall, allowing the oval part of the hoop to point up and push
out the roof fabric a bit. Basically, you want to give the water as
little ground to hold onto. Instead of the yellow hoops (and solid
colored ones are hard to find), I wonder if you couldn’t use some
similarly sized pvc pipe, at least it’d be white. I’ll be thinking
about that before my next outdoor show, just in case the weather
calls for rain.

Designs by Lisa Gallagher

I have used an ez-up tent for 15 years. I did spend about $600 for it
in 1995, and purchased a new top($500) from John Mee company in 1996.
I have used the same ever since. The top never pools and I have no
problems at all. I have never had any pooling with the new top. The
cheap ez-ups give the professional ez-ups a bad name.

Hello Orchidland,

I bought a new EZ-Up a couple years ago. So far, in spite of a
couple drenching storms, there has been no pooling of water in the
canopy. The pointed top sheds water like an umbrella. Zip on the
sides and it’s dry inside. I do 5-6 outdoor shows each year. I chain
my weights to the cross bars at each corner and things have been
secure. Not speaking about tornadic winds, you understand! Just 20
mph or so.

When putting the canopy up in a driving rainstorm, I’m grateful for
the ease and speed that we’re under shelter.

Your mileage may vary.

Judy in Kansas, where a cool front came through and dropped some
rain. Perfect timing for the spinach I just planted!

Ah, water pooling, ok, I can see how that could happen especially on
uneven ground. But yeah I can see ways around that depending on
where you are, what you have, and the spacing between vendors.
Ontario is in it’s ohhh 7th (?) year of low level drought so wind is
a much bigger factor here no matter how much we wish it was

Thank you, the almost knee-jerk “it’s bad!” reaction with no
explanation just baffled me. A funny thing is that the EZ-up
knock-offs that I’ve seen that are too flimsy to be useful have had
domed tops, but they crumple under wind and never go up right again,
it’s a tricky piece of engineering to get right.

Eh, your mileage will certainly vary.

Norah Kerr

Years ago a jeweler from Florida was at the VA Beach Boardwalk art
show as we were. We had some bad weather and his EZ Up was damaged.
He was not upset because he figured that they are disposable tents.
Since the $180 to 200 models have come out at Costco and Sam’s Club
(with wheels on the bag and a short set up time, even with
Rheumatiiod Arthritis) that really is a replacement cost to live
with. We have purchased two, one went through almost a hurricne and
still stood at the Boardwalk. Now the models even have the zippered
corners like the expensive tents. We bought an extra heavy cover for
$25 from someone who didn’t properly stake down at another waterfront
show; so now we have a heavy spare cover. Paarts are easy to come by
from damaged tents and they are repairable. We only do a few shows a
year now due to our health, but these tents work for us. I can;t see
spending $1500 for a tent that takes an hour to put up.

Good luck!
Barbara in Norfolk

EZ Up was damaged. He was not upset because he figured that they
are disposable tents. Since the $180 to 200 models have come out at
Costco and Sam's Club (with wheels on the bag and a short set up

I don’t know anything about tents for shows, but I bought one of
these - the 10 foot size- for $69.99 at Sportmart. It was a special,
yes, but it was there.

I ~did~ have the brand names wrong! I haven’t been using an EZ-up
for refferance but a Caravan Instant Canopy, which looks exactly like
the EZ-up but with less joints along the top of the frame and made of
steel instead of aluminum, probably a heavier nylon for the canopy as


I have touted the Light Dome several times here. But I had an
incident with it that’s going to be expensive to fix, and I thought I
would add it to the discussion for those trying to decide.

I was at a show on grass. I had 40 lb. weights hung from the tops of
each corner, but foolishly failed to also stake each leg and/or use
the special tie-down system you can get. So, naturally, some wind
came up overnight and moved my tent a couple of feet forward,
dragging the weights and bending the upper legs. It will probably be
$300 or so for replacements.

I tried everything I could think of to bend the heavy round aluminum
tubes back to at least semi-straight. I even tried jumping on the
things, but nada. Called machine shops too. I’ve done about 8 shows
now with it like this, and the cockeyed look is not particularly
attractive- so I guess I’ll have to bite the bullet soon. I have a
feeling that the better grade of EZ UP square tubing might not have
bent so easily. Hmm…

Unless someone out there can suggest a way to bend those tubes?

BTW, at a show this weekend I saw a friend’s newer EZ UP with
improved structure and a new multi-paneled roof that looked pretty
water-shedding- which he confirmed. Further hmm…

Allan Mason

If you have a canvas shop in your area that does biminis for boats,
they probably have a tube bender. Not like a plumber’s tube bender,
but more of a grooved piece of wood with large sweeps.

Aluminum is not easy to rebend, but it is cheap and they probably
could replicate the piece for a reasonable price if you can get in
their schedule (I owned a canvas shop for a while, and they are very


Unless someone out there can suggest a way to bend those tubes? 

Maybe use a pipe bender, like for conduit. But it might be too