Tents for craft shows

Hi all,

I am a hobbyist jeweler, and I’m starting to think about selling my
jewelry (there’s just so much you can wear and give as gifts to
friends), so I’ve been reading with interest all the posts about
display cases and tables. I would be selling mainly jewelry made with
dichroic/fused glass (more low end stuff), and participating in local
(New York City) outdoor street and crafts fairs. My understanding
from entry forms I have received and also what I have seen in person
is that many people use some sort of tent to provide shade and
protection from the elements (wind, rain). Does anyone have any
suggestions for a lightweight, easy to set up tent? The space
involved is usually about 10’ x 10’.

Thanks for your help,

Ez up from walmart is a popular start


Lorraine, lots of options, try this sight and check the forums

Warren Townsend

Does anyone have any suggestions for a lightweight, easy to set up

The problem is, easy up (especially EZ-Up), easy down. Sturdy,
durable tents that won’t pocket water in the roof or collapse in a
storm or blow away are neither cheap nor very quick to set up. I am
told Ez-Ups have improved, but they are always the ones turned into
pretzels after a microburst. I have suffered a number of times when
Ez-ups next to me filled with water, and their owners pushed the
water out from inside, right onto my display!

I have a Light Dome that is more than a decade old. It has never
given me any cause to regret the investment, though it needs a good
cleaning now. It does take several minutes to set up, especially if I
am alone, but the frame can be used indoors, and without the top, it
can be configured to any rectangular shape from 10 x 10 down to 5.5 x

If there is a single perfect solution, I have not seen it.


P.S. I have a rubber floor made of 2’ x 2’ interlocking squares. It
takes 7-8 minutes to put down, but it 1) defines my space nicely, 2)
saves a LOT of wear and tear on my body and 3) keeps my display up
above small rivulets of water when it rains. Mine is black, but I’ve
seen some that look like hardwood and other designs. Very worth it!!

We use a tent called “First Up”. It can be set up by one person, but
two makes it super easy. They are 10 ft X10 ft, which is a pretty
standard size for a vendor space at street markets. You can buy them
at WalMart, but for some reason they don’t show up on the WalMart
website. I would advice that you take along a couple of bricks to
weigh it down in case it is windy. We just tie them to the tent
ropes included. If there is water on site, you can also take a couple
of empty one gallon milk jugs with you and fill them with water.

You need to go ahead and get a white one, not the colored ones you
can find at Wally World. Some shows are particular about it being
white. Check at Sam’s and Costco. You can sometimes find better
deals there. I bought my last one on ebay actually, after checking
pricing, and reviews. Don’t go with the cheapest you can find. They
do fall apart… You will need weights. You can either make them
yourself (3 or 4" x 24" cpvc filled with concrete, with a hook buried
in it), buy premade weights you add sand or water to, or you can use
dumbells. I’d get the 25# ones. A good wind will destroy your canopy.
Even if it is “waterproof” buy some waterproofing liquid and put it
on it. When the water starts dripping in the seams you will be
cussing about the waterproofing. The better ones are heavy and rather
large. Mine is about 75#‘s and is about 5’ when folded. It is a pain
to lug in/out of the Jeep. Pretty much all of them say you can put it
up/down by yourself, but try to get someone else to help. It will go
real quick with two or more people. One person will be going in
circles trying to get it up, click-by-click. Usually someone around
you will help.


Try Sam’s Club, I just bought one for $198.99



You might try: http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/nd

Search on tents, 57 pgs of blog on them.

No experience with any, myself.

Bill Mack

PS on a different topic–If anyone would like to know the outcome of my
homeowners’ insurance issues with my tanks and torches,
I’d be glad to respond to you.

My tent which I love is a Finale from the same company that makes
Light Dome. Made in USA Ocala Florida. Good to deal with but not

Jean Menden

Hello Lorraine, I have been doing shows for many years,mostly in
central ny. Many people opt out for the easy up tent due to it,s low
cost and ease of putting up. However, they can be hazardous in
storms. We have been through duties. One show several of the easy up
tents blew over. Lots of broken pottery. I choose a light dome tent
for the strength and lightness inside the tent. It was expensive but
worth it for.me. if I did it again I would make sure I opted for the
awning extension. My husband puts the tent up and down and he says
its easy. If you decide for the less expensive option,make sure you
secure it well.

Good luck.

i bought a light dome canopy, never had a leak, never tried to fly,
but it is expensive. i could load/unload it by myself and set it up.
i’m not doing outdoor shows anymore so i sold it but it’s one of the
best on the market for show tents. check with local artists or on
craig’s list to see if anyone is selling thiers. and i used 40 lb
barbells for weights and bought ratechting tie down straps to
supplement what came with it.


Dee Janssen

OK, I was going to stay out of this discussion because I usually get
beat up when I espouse the EZ-Up tent. And I’m really not trying to
start an argument again but if you buy a cheap tent regardless of
the manufacture you will be lucky if it lasts one season. The cheap
EZ-Ups and cheap EZ-Up knock offs will be destroyed with the first
good wind or rainstorm.

Now that being said I have the more expensive line of EZ-Up and it
will be my 9th season this season with it in windy and stormy
Colorado. Last fall I set up my EZ-Up in the front yard and was
washing my tent before I put it away for the winter and literally
tried to get water to pool on the top. Doesn’t happen with the more
expensive EZ-Ups. Again it’s the cheaper line of EZ-Up and their
knock offs that pool water.

Proper weighting - regardless of the quality or manufacture of your
tent it will fly away if not properly weighted. Water filled milk
jugs and bricks aren’t going to cut it. You need a minimum of 40 lbs
for each corner. Some shows require it. I have 4" PVC pipe cut into 3
foot lengths filled with concrete and a ring imbedded in the concrete
that weight 40 lbs each. Mine cost me about $40 in materials at the
time I made them. More now with inflation. So look at the premade
weights for tents. Just be sure they have at least 40 lbs capacity

You need to suspend your weights from the top and not with bungee
cords. I use tie down straps and suspend my weights from the top
about 1 inch from the ground. You need to secure the weight to the
pole to keep it from swinging. I use small bungee cords to strap my
weights to the poles. If the weights are allowed to swing freely your
tent will literally walk away from you with a gentle wind.

Regardless of what you weight your tent with be sure the weights
don’t stick out much. Buckets and sand bags secured with ropes and
straps are an opportunity to trip someone. People are looking at your
art not looking where they are stepping. The same way for staking
down you tent if it is allowed. Tent stakes and ropes will trip
someone regardless how many colorful streamers you tie to them.

I talked to an old timer at a rock show last year and he told me if
you cut slits in the top of the EZ-Up style tent it will help prevent
it blowing away. Make sense to me and as soon as my SO can figure out
how to sew a cap for the top of our tent to keep the water out I’m
going to try it.

I’m going to say one more thing in favor of the quality line of
EZ-Ups. Last year we had a rainy weekend show and while unpacking at
home I set up the EZ-Up in the yard to dry it out. I wasn’t paying
attention and the wind came up and flipped it over breaking a pair of
struts. I ordered replacement struts and they were delivered 3 days
later. Some tent manufactures aren’t in business any more…

Now before the anti EZ-Up tirade begins remember what they said
about the Titanic and flying in the face of (insert your deity here).

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan

Hi Lorraine. I highly recommend the Light Dome, as will many others
on this forum. If you have any plans to do this for awhile, don’t
cheap out and get an EZ-UP or something similar. I’ve never regretted
spending bigger bucks for a better tent.


What to buy and why has been discussed ad infinitum. Go to Ganoksin
and search the entire archives for “canopy”.


FWIW, I’ve used a “Showoff” canopy for 16 years. I can put it up
alone. It is stable in the wind. It doesn’t leak, and looks really
nice. The three dome tent makers, light dome, craft hut and showoff
are all good. I chose mine because the frame is strong and yet made
of aluminum which allows one girl-person to pick up the bag of poles.
Do add weights to any one you pick. I think that you should tie the
weights with a chain to the upper part of the frame - about 50# per

I first had 2 ez-ups. Both self destructed in a year. Would have
been better to spend the money up-front on a decent rig.

Judy Hoch

Hi - I went through this last year, after going through 5 EZ Up tents
within 3 years. 4 were from Costco - then I tried the $500 dome-top
EZ Up (Hutshop). It lasted 2 shows before breaking in 8 places, they
wanted me to ship it back ($100)for my refund. I tried a KD Canopy,
out of CO - sturdier than an EZ Up brand and mid-range price ($700?)
but they don’t make a dome profile. Bummer, but still a decent sturdy
tent for the money. I see on their website the canopy and frame alone
are $250 - wonder if (cheaper) EZ Up sides would work?Most people
that I’ve spoken with say the dome-top tents are sturdier in the wind
and rain than the pop-up style (pop-ups can ‘pocket’ and collapse in
heavy precip) and that vendors are liable for any damage or injury
caused by their collapsing or flying tent. I’d HATE to have to pay
out thousands because my cheap tent took somebody or somebody’s
product out. Some shows won’t accept EZ Ups at all, others ‘strongly
discourage’ them.I ended up with a Flourish - it stands, rocklike, as
EZ Ups tremble like aspens in the breeze - my Flourish is sturdier,
better ventilated, and more attractive than any other tent I’ve
owned- best money I’ve spent. Whichever tent you choose, get a
‘stabilizer bar set’ (Flourish). Also, weight the thing 2X what you
think it needs - gusts can be unpredictable. (For distant shows, I
buy bricks at my destination, and donate them back after.) Check your
local Craigslist for a used tent, esp. right now, and call the
company you’ve decided upon, to ask if they have any specials,
returns or discounted tents.I put off buying the expensive tent far
longer than I should have - I’m so happy with my Flourish, it’s
easier than I expected to put up, and I sleep much better knowing my
tent will be standing tall each morning. Their customer service is
outstanding, the tent washes up like brand new, and repair patches
don’t show at all. I love everything about it - no affiliation, just
an extremely happy customer.

Sam Kaffine

I’ve been doing 2 - 4 shows a week most weeks in the summer in the
Okanagan, mostly the weather is nice and sunny but occasionally we
get some strong winds gusting up to about 60 mph and terrific
downpours. We use an ez-up tent with 4 building bricks tied to the
top of the tent and sitting on the feet of the legs and only once
have we had problems with the tent trying to lift off and that was
when someone elses tent that was not secured flew into ours and
nearly tipped it. After 4 years we have had 1 strut come apart (nut,
bolt and washers epaired that) and in continuous rains we have a few

At a hundred bucks for the ez-up and it is easy to put up and down
if I get no more use out of it I think it has been a good investment.
Just remember to weight it down.

Rob Whiskin

contrary to others [negative] experiences,

i’ve had an ez up [the sub $200 model] for over 3 years. it’s been
an outdoor tent at local markets. i’ve used it in my yard for garage
sales. and for sun shade, working on lawn equipment and working on
clay. it’s been rained on a couple times. the canvas has been taken
off and washed in a washing machine and dried on a line.

the bag for it didn’t last but a few months, so, it goes in the back
of a pick up, naked.

it’s been blown around a bit and i still haven’t bothered to make
weights for it. it has not suffered for any of the ‘abuses’ i have
put it through…

i feel the purchase was a good one, especially as it has lasted me
all this time.


I have an EZ up with a vaulted ceiling from hut-shop, which is
different than the dome. It has no problems with rain. It had some
issues with breaking at the hinges, and because it was under
warranty, the company sent me a new one. I tried to get a Sam’s one
in between getting my new tent, and the Sam’s one was bad (low
ceiling, length of tent awkward for fitting in trunk of car, etc.) In
the past, I borrowed my friends light dome, and it was the cadillac
of tents. If I had extra money to invest in both a better tent and
bigger vehicle to haul it around, then I would get a light dome. As
it is, the ezup works for the 6 or so shows I do a year. It has been
through golf ball sized hail and crazy wind where other tents flew
into the a river. It is fine, and I think that has more to do with
weights and tying it down (when possible) than with brand alone. I
use heavy pvc pipe weights filled with sand and water, which was a
recommendation from my friend with the light dome. I am sure the
concrete pvc would work about the same.


I have to agree - I’m on my second EZ up from Sam’s. Still have the
first, just after over 10 years of use it was starting to show its
age. The new one is MUCH sturdier than the old, has stood up to
severe thunderstorms with no trouble at all. Wish it was easier to
put up (really needs more than one middle-aged woman lol) but
otherwise love it. I use the sand bags that latch onto its feet…
Mine has front and rear awnings, clear side walls with zip doors on
the front and back… suits me fine. That said, I don’t do outdoor
shows every week… if I did them all the time probably would go for
a Cloud Dome…

Beth Wicker


if you’re undecided about what to use as weights for your tent,
remember that gallon jugs just don’t hack it - a gallon of water
weighs about 8 pounds (learned by experience backpacking water while
hiking). the best weights are commercial or you can buy four 6" dia
pvc sections (stores should cut for you), 4 end caps (6") flat is
best, four 1" eyebolts with long shanks, enough bagged cement mix
and gravel to fill pipes - a supply store should be able to estimate
that amount for you. follow instructions for filling pipes, set
eyebolt shanks so only ring stick out. after cement sets, loop about
one and a half feet of 1/2" nylon rope through eyebolts and knot -
leaving enough loop to fit your fingers into; you can cut and fuse
the ends of rope in one pass with a lighter, solder iron or match to
prevent raveling (important!). the rope loop saves your fingers from
having to lift weight by that eyebolt. no matter how careful you are
the pvc thingies get scratched and tatty - save time and look classy
by making tubes from sturdy fabric gathered and wrapped with cord on
one end and folded over to hold ribbon or cord on the other - slip
over weight for show and remove after show.

REMEMBER: weights go at BOTTOM of legs - NOT halfway up - you want
the center of gravity as low as possible for best security - so
’e.r.o.g.’ it: ends resting on ground! don’t let your tent become a
’galloping gertie’ (look it up on google).

good luck -
think more now, regret less later.