I went to a fabulous school fete on the weekend – there were rides for the kids, craft, cheap-as-chips second toys and books, and more gourmet food stalls than a Food Truck Rumble. Unfortunately, the temperatures peaked at 38 degrees which made things uncomfortable and probably affected overall attendance. How can you prepare to weather proof your fete?
It is an unfortunate fact of life that living in Australia we can have extreme weather, and you will have summer months where the temperatures regularly exceed 35 degrees. Even spring weather can have spikes in the very high 30s.
Spring and early autumn are popular times to hold a school fete or festival but because you will need to plan so far in advance, you won’t know what sort of weather you will have until a week or so prior. Here are some way to help hot weather-proof your next fete.
$1 icypoles – buy in bulk and ensure you start freezing them at least a few days in advance.
Cheap bottles of cold water in large (clean) rubbish bins full of ice.
Contact Mr Whippy or your local icecream vendor and ask them to park a van on your school oval (for a fee, of course).
Make snow-cones or hire a slushie dispenser.
If you are very organised (and crafty) you can have a stall selling neck-cooling bandannas filled with water absorbing crystals, or just provide buckets of iced water for people to dip their bandannas into.
Create wet areas
If there is a large expanse of grass in full sun between areas at your fete, consider putting on a (gentle) sprinkler for people to walk through, or play in. Keep in mind safety (slipping on mud/wet grass) and water restrictions, and make sure there is a dry path alternative for those who don’t want to get wet.
Have hoses to spray on inflatable slides to make them slippery and cool. At the very least, wet the entrance as the plastic can get very hot in the sun. Again, be mindful of safety.
Have a water pistol arena where people can have timed water play (or use water pistols to shoot empty bottles too win a prize).
If you were planning on having a dunking machine to dunk teachers, you might make more money by opening it up to the public and people pay to be dunked. People can donate $5 to be the dunkee for 5 or 10 minutes, as well as people paying to try and dunk them.
Have a cool room
Empty a classroom or staff room and have it open for feeding mothers, the elderly and anyone else who needs to escape the heat. Have clear signs saying there is an air conditioned room available and make sure stall holders and organisers know where to direct people.
Shade Shade Shade
Make sure you provide plenty of shaded areas for your visitors. This may be done by setting up stalls under the natural shade of trees, or using large marquees to provide shaded sitting areas for picniking or watching the main stage. If kids need to queue when waiting for rides and games, create a shelter for them using marquees.
Remember to take into account how the sun will move over the course of your event, ensuring you set up marquees to provide maximum shade during the heat of day. Approach local schools to see if you can borrow their marquees and faction tents, in exchange for returning the favour when they next hold an event.
Have a first aid stall and make sure whoever is manning it knows how to deal with heat stroke, dehydration and sunburn. For large events, consider asking St Johns or local paramedics to be present.
Have a number of clearly marked sun-screen stations where customers (and volunteers) can apply free sunscreen. You might be able to get large bottles donated from local pharmacies or supermarkets in exchange for signage and advertising.
Take care of your own
Your customers have a choice whether they come out in the heat, but your volunteers don’t. It can get extremely hot working under tents and tarps, so make sure you have someone going from stall to stall with bottles of cold water for your helpers.