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Storms wreak tent havoc

Industry News | December 1, 2007 | By:

Summer and fall storms have caused thousands of dollars worth of damage to tents around the U.S.

In late August, a storm system ripped through the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, where Minneapolis-based Skyway Event Services had just finished setting up a large clearspan structure for Renewal by Andersen’s home improvement exhibit at the fair (pictured above). The storm damaged more than 60 fair booths less than two weeks before the event, which would attract around 1.6 million attendees.

“When the storm hit and our exhibit was completely destroyed, I had my worries,” said Michael McMurchie, visual merchandising manager for Renewal by Andersen. “We were back to square one with only 11 days until the fair began.” McMurchie said that when he saw the Skyway Event team cleaning up the site bright and early the next morning, he knew he was “in good hands.” The Skyway team simply started over fresh, building the clearspan and flooring from the ground up, again.

“We finished our display installation on time,” McMurchie said. “The showroom experience we originally planned was delivered to our guests, without them even knowing our original exhibit had been destroyed in the storm.”

In Tulsa in mid-October, a strong wave of storms hit an Oktoberfest celebration, where around 7,000 people were huddling under tents, according to Tulsa World. Around 25 adults were taken to hospitals throughout Tulsa with injuries from collapsing tent poles.

“The [tent] poles started shaking, and lifting up, and then it collapsed,” said event staff member Rita Burgess.

Event promotions chair Michael Sanders said he was “being optimistic” that the storm, the day’s second big system, might bypass the festival. “We knew there was possibly going to be more weather behind [the first wave],” Sanders said. “What we didn’t know was when and how severe.”

The festival was no match for the strong winds, which took down two tents, partially collapsed a third and ripped holes in others. The National Weather Service later reported that the storm’s winds were in excess of 80 mph.

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