A Newbies Guide to Tents for Craft Shows and Festivals – Part 1

April 2011

So you have decided to go to your first outdoor show.  Outdoor shows are different from indoor shows - you must worry about the weather.  Not just bad weather, but heat, sun, wind, etc. Selecting the right tent is imperative.  But which one is right. Let us consider some points as below:

First - How large is your booth space?  Most are at least 10'x10'.  A 10x10 tent will easily fit within a 10x10 space.  If you routinely plan on renting more than one booth space, you may wish to buy a 10x20 tent or simply use two 10x10 tents.

Second - How big of vehicle do you have for transporting your tent and contents of your booth?  If you have a F350 truck like me, then size really isn't a problem.  If you have a compact car, then size will definitely be an issue. Make sure that you measure your trunk before you make a purchase.

Third - How many people will be setting up the tent?  If you are routinely by yourself, make sure that you can set the tent up by yourself.  If you have help (spouse, partner, kids, etc.), then you have more choices.

You basically have three choices - cheap, collapsible, or assembly.  Let me explain the differences.

Cheap tents - Cheap tents are usually bought at department stores, sporting goods store, etc. and are meant for use only once or twice a year - usually around your house for parties.  They are flimsy, lack sides, and the canopy material is easily damaged.  It often takes two or more people to put up a cheap tent. You may decide on a cheap tent as a way to cut expenses if you only plan on only participating in one or two outdoor craft shows a year. I understand keeping costs under control, but when it comes to buying craft tents, this is not the place to cut corners.

Collapsible tents - Probably the most common type of craft tent is the collapsible tent.   The most common collapsible type made by EZ-Up. Collapsible tents consist of a frame and a canopy. There are some choices on colors, but be aware that some craft shows require white tents. The collapsible tents are usually easy to set-up and can often be erected by a single person.  The EZ-Up tents usually come with a roller bag for storage, sides, and anchors.  You can also purchase accessories like weights, signs, etc.

Tents Requiring Assembly - Tents that require assembly are the final assembly.  These tents are usually made of pipes that fit together.  Because these are composed of pipes, they are heavier and sturdier.  The most popular craft tents that require assembly are made by Trimline tents by Flourish. Tents that require assembly usually require two or more people, require more assembly time, and may require more storage space.  The cost is also higher, but the stability offered by the pipe assembly (due to weight and design) makes the cost acceptable to many crafters.

So, if you are committed to selling your items at outdoor shows, and particularly the more competitive show, then craft tents are worth the investment. If you plan to do several shows, the benefits you'll get from a quality, useable craft show tent will make your purchase worthwhile. Check the links, but also if you have a Sam's Club or Costco membership, you may also find good canopies at fair prices at those stores.

Mark Cato and his wife own a candles business and have participated in over 200 craft shows. They average 35-40 craft shows a year. Mark loves to help other craft vendors improve their marketing at both craft shows and on the internet. Over the past three years, he has been a featured speaker at several regional craft workshops.



Good article, but you did not discuss “fire rsistant” tents.  I sell food, but enven without many events I have partici0pated in required all vendors to use a fire resistant tent.  I’ve seen several who showed up with one of the sporting good store versions being turned around or required to pay an extra fee to rent from the event sponsor, a fire resistant canopy.
You might wqnt to cover this issue as a separate article/

By Arlon Kenedy on April 21, 2011

Great article!! And, I agree with Arlon about the fire resistant canopies.In fact I suggest the fire resistant tents from I bought mine from them. They’re very competitive on the price and their tents are very easy to set-up. I loved the customer service and thier knowledge on the products too. I am little and don’t work out as much but can put the booth up myself within just 2-3 minutes. I recommend the eclipse ii version with a roller bag and weight bags.

By reachzohra on April 28, 2011

Check out, theirs are fire resistant and reasonably priced, been using mine for 4 years and never a problem.

By firechef on September 8, 2011

Good article!  I am a newbie.  But wondering how you can “clip” the tarp to the canopy.  I see a lot of new vendors with these big clips that hold the tablecloth in place when there is extreme wind.  Any suggestions?

By Lisa on October 19, 2011

I am a green horn to yhe craft shows and sales.  I have quilt and other fabric items, is there a market for those items? Maxine in Spring Hill

By Maxine Kersey on October 31, 2011

I have the beige/brown EZ UP Canopy & I love it!!!!
We have not been turned away so far!!!!
It takes 3 of us to put it up cannot be done in alloted time slot for setting up by one person!

And yes there is a market for quilts!!! I would buy one from your booth!
And isn’t that one of the reasons why you would have a fire extinguisher at your booth?

By Hungry Bear BBQ on December 12, 2011

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