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Tents provide vintage elegance

Project Briefs | June 1, 2008 | By:

Beautiful banners adorn three 1920s-themed tents after a tough install.

When University of Texas event planner Rod Caspers called on Marquee Tent Productions to tent a 500-person celebration dinner, his needs were specific. Caspers gave Marquee six weeks of planning to execute the event—but only two days for setup. The deadline was firm: The tents had to be ready by Friday at noon for performers to begin rehearsing. As always, the tents would have to be perfect, to act as a backdrop for the planning committee’s theme of choice—the elegant look of the 1920s.

Because the tent was intended to sit in front of the University of Texas Tower, which would be augmented with special lighting, the committee wanted guests to be able to see through the tent. But, as Marquee’s Rachel Garrett notes, “It was April in Texas; complete clear-tops were not an option due to the heat.” The size requirements also meant that a large tent was needed, but Marquee couldn’t stake into the concrete at the site.

Marquee got around these problems by using three tents guttered together, with clear gable ends and additional clear-top sections. Garrett says the install team used a combination of drilled anchors and water barrels to hold down the tents. “Obviously, we would have loved to put up one large tent and to stake into the ground,” she says, “but given the circumstances, it turned out great.” Marquee’s crew of 12 installed the tent in 14 hours over two days, dodging threats of rain as well as pedestrians on one of the most-used walkways at the university.

“We had great vendors working side by side,” Garrett says. One of those vendors was Swirling Silks Inc., which worked with Austin-based designer Drew Patterson to create unique nylon banners that conjured up a 1920s aesthetic. Large banners greeted guests at each entranceway, and the interior banners helped fill the large tents’ space in an unexpected way.

Garrett says that despite the many concerns during setup, the client ended up happy. “Every experience with a committee and a designer is educational,” she says. “It is exciting for us to have creative people wanting to host tented events.”

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