Feature Article - September 2015
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All's Fair

The Latest Trends in Family-Friendly Community & Concert Events

By Rick Dandes

There are many ways to incorporate a climbing element into your facility, including building a climbing wall on the side of your tower or using a modular climbing kit on existing structural supports or nearby trees. Climbing is an activity suitable for people of all ages, and routes can be set to accommodate anyone from the first-timer to the experienced pro, making this activity appropriate for any of your customers, no matter who they are.

Traditionally, Carlson explained, top rope climbing involves two people—the climber and the belayer. "As the climber ascends the wall," he explained, "the belayer takes up slack in the rope through a belay device. With a brake hand on the rope at all times, the belayer controls the descent of the climber and is also responsible for applying a braking technique in the event of a fall."

Most community festivals, whether large city street fairs or small-town carnivals, feature live music on an elevated stage with adjacent seating.

An auto belay is an automatic belay device that eliminates the need for a human belayer. The auto belay takes up the slack as a climber ascends and controls the descent when the climber reaches the top or in the event of a fall. Rather than requiring one human belayer per climber, auto belay devices allows multiple climbers on the wall with one person as a supervisor.

"Bottom line," Carlson said, "incorporating auto belays into your facility helps you increase revenue while reducing costs and risk." For example, with an auto belay, climbers don't need to rely on having a partner every time they visit your facility. Single climbers can come in whenever their schedule allows, giving them the opportunity to visit your facility more frequently.

Carlson's company also has developed a product that provides a way to transform a tree or pole into a thrilling or skills-building adventure. "What it all means," Carlson said, "is people don't have to build a climbing wall, you can build a climbing activity on any tree you have in your park or location. You can actually have 20 different climbing routes in a tree and have that protected by the auto so that people are protected and won't fall and hurt themselves."

On Staging

Most community festivals, whether large city street fairs or small-town carnivals, feature live music on an elevated stage with adjacent seating. Rompré knows something about staging shows: His company currently is involved in staging events in 46 countries.

The kind of stage you choose is one of the most crucial decisions you make when organizing an event, he said. So it's critical to have a clear understanding of the differences between the two principal types of stage: the mobile and the conventional. Traditionally a stage is built on site. It's an assembly of structures and materials that has to be loaded on a trailer, then unloaded on the site and moved to the spot where the stage will be constructed. All these operations require machinery, they're labor-intensive, and they take time.

But a mobile stage not only has the advantage of being mobile, it's also preassembled. The structure consists of floor and roof panels that deploy hydraulically, electrically or manually into a stage that's easy to install in a short time. A mobile stage is freestanding. Unlike a conventional stage, it requires no external ballast or cables for stability: Stability is designed and engineered right into the stage. This is true for mobile stages whose structure is conceived to resist winds of 80 to 90 miles per hour; otherwise, depending on the situation it may be necessary to consider the use of ballast for stability purposes, just as with conventional stages.

"Basically we are the infrastructure on which the show takes place," Rompré explained. "When the general public and fans come to an event, all they want to see is the artist. They may also want to see a light show, but they are not really interested in the staging component of it. So on our end, we feel like we're doing a good job when the show happens, everyone is safe, they have a good time, and the audience doesn't notice what the stage structure is. We put all the emphasis on the artist, the sponsors that are showcased on our structure and the promoter of the event."

There should be a "wow" factor as well when you go to the concert, and that means not just the artists on stage, but the staging itself, Rompré said. "So the aesthetic of the product is very, very important. Every time we start a project, aesthetics become part of the plan. The seating in relation to the stage, in terms of width, breadth and height is a factor. Where the banners of sponsors are displayed is important to the promoters."

At the heart of every successful concession stand is the large group of customers that demand the old standbys.

An event is a great opportunity for your partners to display their colors to a large crowd. Making the most of promotion space on a stage is a must. But are you aware of all the display options? Rompré asked. Display is an effective way to give your stage a personality with a one-of-a-kind, carefully planned visual. Creating a strong impression on spectators means you're building a relationship with them. A good-looking stage is not only a big factor in the success of an event, but it will feature in the countless photos taken on site and shared then and later.

In choosing the type of stage display that is best for you, two solutions are available, Rompré said. The first are banners. This proves to be a simple and successful way of conveying a brand image and showcasing your sponsors. More recently, digital display is becoming more common for decking out stages. The advantage of digital is that it's interactive, and that's a great way to make a connection with the audience.

One thing that has significantly changed over the years, however, is "the number of rules guiding our industry," Rompré said, "… how stages can be built and the regulations we need to comply with. For example, when we started building stages back in 1987, we set those standards for ourselves. And we decided to build everything to the highest standard, the International Building Code. We based all of our designs on the IBC."