O’Neil Tents and Party Supplies helps the Dublin Irish Festival grow with bigger and better tents.
With a name like Dublin, the annual Irish festival has to be good. And, in fact, the three-day Dublin Irish Festival in Dublin, Ohio, draws more than 100,000 revelers and is one of the largest Irish festivals worldwide.
But it started out like most festivals: small. Fred Waller of O’Neil Tents and Party Supplies of Canal Winchester, Ohio, recalls that rentals for the first festival in 1988 consisted of one 20-by-40-foot frame tent, 10 tables, a small stage and a handful of chairs. Over the years, O’Neil recommended new styles and sizes of tents to meet the festival’s growing needs, particularly clearspan structures because of their versatility and strength.
“The Irish Festival is the reason we purchased 30-meter-wide structures,” Waller says. “Knowing that we had a long-term customer who would use the structures year after year made the large initial investment much easier to stomach.”
Prior to the August festival, a crew of 10 spends two weeks installing 132,000 square feet of tenting, including seven clearspan structures ranging from 12 to 30 meters wide, 150 frame tents and six Century® tents, along with 1,000 tables, 8,000 chairs, staging, fans, fencing, banner poles and coat racks.
“We manufacture all of the vinyl products used at the festival,” Waller says. “From frame tent sidewalls
to 30-meter clearspan roof panels, our manufacturing team spends countless hours making sure the Irish Festival looks the best it can. We have manufactured custom stage skirting for VIP areas, kelly green clearspan roof panels, and other specialty items the festival team requests.”
In the years since the festival began, staking and ballasting requirements have changed and code enforcement has become more stringent in Ohio. Waller says that the IFAI-TRD ballasting study has helped the company educate and work with local code officials.
“Our response to the increased attention to state requirements has been to steer customers away from frame and pole tents when possible and into engineered pole tents (we use Anchor’s Century) as well as engineered clearspan structures (we carry HTS-Hocker structures).”
One key to the festival’s success, Waller says, is the city of Dublin’s events team, which communicates a strong and clear vision of the event. This helps O’Neil’s crew to work efficiently to make the vision a reality.
“While the Irish Festival is being installed, we are also installing over a hundred other jobs of various sizes,” Waller says. “Some of those other jobs include the Ohio State Fair, a county fair, two other annual community events, a dozen corporate events, as well as several residential parties. Our team is able to accomplish all of these projects through hard work, experience and an attention to detail that keeps all of these customers coming back year after year.”