Monday, July 22, 2019

Heat and Rain and Tips for Outdoor Author Events

The theme of my summer so far: Heat and Rain...with a healthy scoop of high winds and a side of hail. One thing I can say for sure, outdoor events are a gamble. Not only with the weather, but with your stuff.

One tent/canopy you should never buy for outdoor events: Anything that looks like this

I've personally seen at least eleven of them go into dumpsters after getting mangled by winds and heavy rain or hail so far this summer. If you're going to buy a tent, invest a little and get a sturdy one. I have one of these. Being that I bought it eighteen years ago and it's still going strong, I can easily say it's well worth the money. . And yes, the sides are wonderfully useful! I've seen some with clear windows in them too, but I don't have that kind. Yet. I may get one as it's nice to be able to see around you when it's raining.

I've done a lot of outdoor events this year and they've all been plagued with weather issues. It's either 90+ degrees or windy and raining. Or thunderstorms. Like last Saturday. Poor Joan and I stuck it out for a few hours, hoping the drizzle would let up, but when the sky got black and the rain went sideways, it was time to make a run for it. Packing up books in the rain is not fun. Thankfully we weren't parked far away. However, taking down the tent itself got us both drenched.

This weekend, both of the events I have scheduled are inside. I'll be at Holton Library in the Muskegon area on Saturday morning for an author meet and greet and in Traverse City at the Festival of Pop Culture on Sunday. I've also added a last minute outdoor Market date tomorrow night (June 23) at Bolt Park in Grand Haven. If you're in the area of any of those, stop by.

Other handy tidbits (most of which I did not personally suffer):

• If you have anything breakable in your tent, pack it away overnight. Storms happen and will break all of your nice things.

• Always be prepared for wind by having rocks to set on paper items or a mug to hold cards or bookmarks.

• Carry a box of large zip lock bags so if it does start raining, your books wont be soaked when they are purchased.

• Keep a piece of plastic or a large trash bag handy to put on the ground under your table. Keep all of your boxes and supplies on it so when it does inevitably start to rain, your stuff doesn't get soaked from the ground up.

• Keep the tent sides in the car, even if the forecast says it won't rain around the time of your event. Okay, this one was me last weekend. The one time I didn't pack them....

• Store your books in something waterproof so when transporting them between the tent and your car in the rain, they don't get ruined.


  1. For most of the years we've been here, one thing we've usually been able to count on is fairly still air. Even when it rains, it usually comes down vertically. We have a picnic shelter, looks a lot like the first picture, and we've never even had to peg it down. But I've noticed a change in the past couple of years, a lot more wind meaning we can no longer take that calm for granted.

    Good tips on the outdoor book selling though. There clearly speaks the voice of experience! I hope the events were worth it.

    1. Wow, that sounds really lucky! What is this still air thing you speak of? It seems to be windy here all the time. So much so this week that it was blowing books off my display this past Tuesday. I had to set them down flat, which makes them far less visible. But outdoor events have the best traffic so they are worth the headaches.

  2. Hi Jean - just heard about some friends who'd had a party ... the awnings were up - the torrents came down, most were inside due to the cooling off - two were still nattering under the awning - next thing .... one sodden couple of peeps. So your tips are good ideas ... cheers Hilary

    1. Oh no! Unfortunately, that seems to happen quite frequently with those kinds of tents. They're nice for providing shade and okay in a drizzle, but that's about it.


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