3 Items Every Carnival Booth CAN'T Survive Without!
We have visited dozens of carnivals in the past few years and noticed a few common booth mistakes that are easily overcome, if carnival planners are just simply aware of the issues.
Please see our list below of the three items that cause major issues...
Ample Supplies for the Game
This sounds like relatively easy common sense, right? WRONG! You will not believe how often we see a game booth with so few supplies that the volunteers are forced to retrieve the supplies needed after each player.
Running after supplies every single minute wears out volunteers, causes long lines, and means that less kids can play each game. And, this makes for tired, worn-out volunteers who are less inclined to volunteer in the future!
Rule of Thumb: Have Enough Supplies for 4 - 5 Players
Provide enough supplies to ensure that 4 - 5 carnival players can play before volunteers must retrieve the supplies.
For example, the Bean Bag Toss typically gives carnival players 3 tries to win. Ensure you have at least 12 - 15 bean bags at the booth so your volunteers are not chasing after each player's tossed bean bags.
Note: Some games have as many attempts as the Cola Ring Toss, in which players are given 5 rings for a chance to win. Our plastic rings come in a bag of 48. Some carnival planners have called us and asked if we can simply sell the rings in a smaller quantity. TRUST US - your volunteers will LOVE that they do not have to bend over to pick up rings after each player!
Plus, if a few rings are lost, you'll have enough supplies for years to come!
Clips, Packing Tape, Bungee Cords or Weights
Wind is one of the "invisible carnival enemies." Most carnival planners check the weather for rain - but the real culprit is actually wind. Gusty wind or even light breezes can cause major issues at carnival booths on an otherwise beautiful day!
Use tablecloth clips to keep tablecloths from whipping up on the ends or flying off all together.
Use packing tape to tape down signs and some cardboard games. We have used clear packing tape to tape down a Lollipop Tree on a table - and it worked great on a windy day!
Bungee cords will keep large, flat plywood games like the Bean Bag Toss or Balloon Pop Game (shown above) secured to a tree, post, or fence. You would be surprised how strong a spring breeze is and how easily it can knock down a large heavy piece of plywood!
We had that experience one time when we were setting up our Butterfly Balloon Burst game! It was a relatively calm spring day with only a slight breeze - perfect for a carnival. Suddenly, a huge gust of wind came out of nowhere, which knocked down our game and popped all the balloons! Thank goodness no one was standing in front of the game when it crashed, but we learned that even on a non-windy day it is best to secure all large games using bungee cords.
Shade or Protection for Volunteers
It is surprising how hot it can become on a mild, beautiful day while standing in the sun!
Many carnivals are held in school parking lots or church soccer fields, so shade is limited on a hot day. Providing portable shade takes money and time - which is hard to come by for most fundraising carnivals.
Here are a few suggestions:
Time of Day Is a Determining Factor
If you have a Summer Fun fair and your event is from 10:00am - 2:00pm in the southern U.S., shade is imperative. This is one of the most extreme examples! Consider how many booths can be moved under the shade of trees in a parking lot or to the edge of a covered walkway to take advantage of the shade or a breezeway.
And, for the other booths that will be in the sun, it is best if you have shade for your volunteers (and the carnival players too). Ask around at your school, church or from the volunteers if anyone has a portable shade tent they would be willing to setup and dismantle for your event.
QUICK TIP: Visit your carnival site a week or so before the carnival at the same time so you can predict the shade and how it moves throughout the event.
Time of Year & Climate Matter, Too
If you have a late afternoon event in the spring or fall, covered booths may not be as important because the sun is setting and the weather will cool down fast.
For example, the Dart Balloon Booth photo (first photo on this post - above) was taken from an elementary school carnival that holds its annual fundraising Spring Carnival every year on Friday afternoon 4:00 - 8:00pm.
Typically it is not too hot and it cools down pretty quickly after about the first hour and a half of this event. They make sure their ticket booth is in the shade for the comfort of the volunteers. The other booths have some shade from the game boards themselves. And, because it is late in the day, they do not worry about shading each booth which makes setup and tear down much easier!
So, think about your climate and the time of day for your event when planning for shading. You can save much time and effort if you plan your carnival to work with mother nature and her natural shade.
Thank you for reading the Carnival Savers blog. Check out the rest of our blog for other awesome carnival hints and tips to save you time & money!