The 67th annual Hershey AACA Fall National Meet takes place October 10 – 13, 2012. No one knows this show better than Central PA Tent Rental Companies.  You see, it is one of the most complicated jobs we do every year. Why?   98% of the tents are placed on the parking lot of the world famous Hershey Complex where they don’t allow any stake penetration into the blacktop.  The blacktop spans the areas surrounding Giant Center, Hershey Park, Hershey Stadium, and Chocolate World. If Hershey was to allow staking, it would need to be preceded by marking miles of underground utilities with spray paint, rendering the parking lot aerial art.

Picture using concrete safe blocks
1000 pound safe blocks used by two of the companies at the 2011 show

Frame tents trump pole tents at Hershey

The typical size tent used at this show run from 20 x 20 to as large as 40 x 120.  Pole tents can not be used in a “No Stake situation” because the tensioning ropes or ratchet straps need to go out at a 30-40 degree angle from the leg to provide the pulling out force to hold it up.  A frame tent is constructed with a combination of aluminum pipes and fittings to form the tent shape, and then clad with a vynal fabric top and walls.  If you removed the element of weather, the tents stand upright by their frame.  But with standard weather patterns, a professional tent company installs stakes, in this case with ballast, as necessary to handle high winds, heavy rains, and the occasional micro-burst or tornado that rake the region.  Because October brings strong fall winds, and the Hershey parking lot is a wide open area for winds,  the importance of anchoring can not be denied.

Large Concrete blogs are used on wider span tents
Four of the tent rental companies at the 2011 show use  1800# blocks on 30 to 40 ft frames

Anchoring tents on blacktop without stakes

Tent Manufacturers provide the tent  rental company with a staking blue print for each style/size tent. When substituting ballast for stakes the tent rental company has to apply industry standards to determine ballasting required for a safe installation. For a fictitious analysis the effective staking forces required for a 30×30 is 1 stake per leg, (est. 800# each depending on soil conditions), the ballasting requirement might be determined by multiplying a factor of 1.5 to 2 times that (example: 800 x 1.5 = 1,200#). Depending on ballast material used, what height it is tied off, and the angle of the rope, the multiple factor is increased or decreased. In the example using water filled plastic barrels, they are tied too high, and tend to slide easily with side forces. To make up for this, you use a higher multiple to achieve an adequate force. If the winds on an October day are steady at 25, gusting to 50 MPH, you don’t want the barrel(s) sliding or toppling over, reducing it’s effectiveness. Sand bags and 5 gallon buckets each represent about 55 pounds of force, which means you would need dozens of them to secure each leg of a 30 or 40 wide tent to the degree a stake would perform. Large size concrete weights are the best option for large tents.

Industry experts say

Most of the information provided by the major manufacturers and tent rental associations leans toward large concrete ballast as the most efficient method to anchor without stakes (to effect the desired result against side forces of winds on tents).  Water barrels when properly used are effective on the smaller tents.  Which ever method is used, the goal is to provide safe tenting that protects the public and property from a tent getting away during the 5-7 day period  the tents are up.

What can we offer

For Show Vendors – If you already have a favorite tent provider, we would be happy to provide “block only rentals”, delivered to your space.  At the 2011 show we trucked in over 50,000# of concrete ballast for use by vendors and tent rental companies.  We will also quote for tent rentals(if we have not reached our cap on the square footage we can install because of inventory availability, and the time constraints for setup imposed by the AACA).
For Tent Rental Companies – We will pre-deliver sub-rental Safe blocks, rubber and chocks to your tent site. You will need to bring a standard pallet jack to move them into the final position.  We are also happy to sell concrete blocks, subject to availability.  However we can not offer any advice on the amount of ballast which is appropriate for your tent.  You must consult the manufacturer for this technical advice.


Below are a few photos of other tents at last years show, to give you a feel for the different types of ballast used by various companies.

5 gal concrete
Tent with every other leg attached to 5 gal concrete
Concrete buckets around legs
Clustering of multiple buckets to increase weight
Tent with anchoring without stakes
40 wide frame tent with 1800# blocks
20 x 20 frame tent with sand bags for ballast
Sand bags anchoring down corners of tent
Grey stacking boxes holding down tent
Stackable Gaylord boxes securing tent
Pair of blue and white canopies at Hershey Stadium
Two blue striped 20 x 40 tents with H2O ballast
Tents tied off to trucks at Hershey Auto Show
Severe winds forecast, the vendor took extra precautions
Tent tied to truck
Tying down tent to available truck
Lego block anchoring tent
1800 pound LEGO block placed inside tent
cluster of concrete blocks on tent leg
Red antique auto at Hershey Swap Meet
We also provide block rentals only if you have your own favorite tent rental company
If you already have a favorite tent rental company, we also provide “BLOCK ONLY” rentals delivered direct to your spot

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