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Fabric structure shades state fairgoers

Project Briefs | December 1, 2010 | By:

A temporary tensioned fabric structure debuting at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair solved a sweltering problem for fairgoers and performers.

The structure was designed to solve an issue that occurred every year at Baldwin Park near the Family Fun Stage on the state fairgrounds. While performers appeared on a covered stage, the audience sat in direct sunlight in late August and early September. State fair organizers would place chairs and bleachers in front of the stage, and the audience would reposition them at the edge of the seating area where there was some shade available from nearby trees.

“Performers never really felt like they had a decent audience,” says Matt Franta, owner of the project’s general contractor, Canvas Craft Inc. of Rogers, Minn.

With six weeks for manufacturing and installation, Canvas Craft project manager Kevin Tutchenhagen worked closely with architects and engineers. Partners included Brian Tempas of Cunningham Group, Minneapolis, Minn. (design and architecture); and Jared Reigstad of Reigstad & Associates, St. Paul, Minn., and Wayne Rendely, P.E., New York (engineering). Architects started with five potential designs, and after working through a number of renditions, fair officials settled on a look that evokes a feeling of sails with flags atop the masts. The 100-foot-wide, 50-foot-deep and 40-foot-tall structure utilizes a combination of helical and grouted anchors. The shade sails were constructed from Ferrari Soltis® 86, which provides excellent strength, stability, UV protection and a mesh quality that allows air and some light to flow

“You don’t feel like you are sitting under a stuffy roof,” he says. The bright yellow shade sails also completement the fairground color scheme and provide some shade to performers as well as the audience.

Fair officials were very pleased with the structure and the response of fairgoers. Not only did fairgoers gather at the park in greater numbers than previous years, but they stayed longer, relaxing and enjoying performances, Franta says.

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