Niagara Tents and Events provides places to gather in southern Ontario.
Niagara Tents and Events is the amalgamation of two companies—Rain or Shine Tent Rentals and All Event Rentals. In 1999, the two small companies joined forces to create an inventory to fill the needs of large festivals in southern Ontario.
With its clients divided evenly between festivals, weddings and corporate functions, the company is one of the few in the area that will install tents in the winter. “Geographically our area poses some issues for tenting,” says Mike Howe, Niagara Tent’s owner and president. “Winters cause some havoc with strong winds, blowing snow and frozen tundra. Though the demand for tenting is minimal in winter, we have loyal repeat customers who rely on us to make their events happen.” The underlying bedrock throughout much of the territory also presents a challenge, requiring a variety of ballasting techniques including permanent lags, concrete ballasts and water barrels.
One winter event, the Niagara Icewine Festival, takes place under a variety of Niagara Tents and Events tents each January, and draws a community together to sample wine made from frozen grapes. Practically speaking, Niagara supplies heated tents to shelter festival-goers and wood-fired pizza ovens. But what Niagara supplies on a community level is a real—instead of virtual—social networking hub.
Niagara Tents and Events has also provided the structure and ambiance for the Niagara Wine Festival for the past 12 years. The annual two-week event draws people from across the globe to sample wine, food and entertainment. Niagara Tents and Events supplies more than 30 tents, and lighting, tables, chairs, staging, fencing and pipe and drain. “We have been working so closely with the organizers of this event for so long they know they can trust us to come through,” Howe says. “They know they can let us do our thing and the event will get done on time and to specs.”
The company shelters about 30 to 40 weddings a season. “Banquet hall pricing has increased dramatically,” Howe says. “That, coupled with the fact that brides are looking for something different, directs them to tents and the outdoors for wedding venues.
The smallest portion of the company’s clientele, especially due to the recession, has been corporate events. Still, the corporate events that do happen tend toward the grand. Niagara Tents and Events erected a 60-by-150-foot clearspan structure complete with flooring and a carpeted reception area for 400 in September 2008. Featuring illusionist Greg Frewin and a Cirque du Soleil performance, the event “delivered” and the event planner has been a client ever since.
Howe notes the decline in clients in the past three years may not have hit Ontario as hard as other parts of North America but nonetheless it’s been a reality he’s happy to see changing. “The past couple of months have shown a renewed interest in tenting for the coming season,” Howe says. “I think it’s a great sign of things to come.”