Feature Article - October 2010
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Cover Ups

Selecting the Right Shade Structure for Your Needs

By Kelli Anderson

When Cantigny Park, a 500-acre public estate in Winfield, Ill., recently built a small gazebo near their scenic Gold and Silver ponds, they predicted that the site would be popular. However, they had no idea that it would become a romantic favorite for those planning to "pop" the question.

"We've had gentlemen call to ask to use it for proposals," said Matt LaFond, executive director of the park. "They reserve it for the time they ask for. Although it's too small for wedding ceremonies, it's perfect for engagements. It's one of our most popular spots."

Beyond providing just the necessary UV protection, shade structures can provide so much more. When well planned, selected and installed, they can attract more people to our venues, extend the recreational hours of the day and night, add revenue and even put a little romance in our lives.

Getting the right shade structure, however, begins with popping the right questions. What function will it need to serve? Will it need to be portable? What climates must it withstand? What look should it have? And what about maintenance, warranties and just knowing how to choose the right vendor for your project? A little forethought can yield big returns.