Ultimate Events

Tent Planner

Canopy or tent?

Reference to either tent or canopy means the same item. For permitting, some local governments have termed a canopy to be a tent top only and use tent to mean a top with side walls. 

Please keep in mind that tents are temporary structures and are subject to adverse weather. Wind driven rain will complicate the comfort of your guests. Sidewalls are vinyl so they are oftentimes affected by windy conditions. Our crews are professionals and very proficient when they erect tents so that you can be assured that your tent will be set in a safe manner; but, in the event of severe weather, the tent should be evacuated.

Ultimate Events carries three types of tents: rope and pole, frame and structure (also known as clearspan). Frequently the decision on the style of tent can be made depending on the type of event and your preference. A brief review of each type follows.

Rope and Pole

Rope and pole tents are often what most people picture when they think of tents. The tents have side poles around the entire perimeter and also have larger poles underneath that support the tent top. There are ropes or straps attached to the tops of the side poles that are then connected to stakes that have been driven into the surface. The tension exerted by the ropes connected to the poles and stakes keeps the tent upright.

Generally rope and pole tents are the least expensive and have the most notable profile as the drop in height from the center poles to the sides can be dramatic. They can also be made into the largest size of tents; we once set one that was 1000 feet long! There are poles under the top which can be an obstruction for some events but can also be a point to place décor and lights.


Aluminum pipes are connected to make a frame and then fabric is placed on the top to create a tent, and it is staked to the surface to secure it. Because there are no center poles the area under the tent is open. Frame tents need less space to set than rope and pole styles so they might be a consideration when space is a concern. However, due to frame restrictions, frame tents are limited in size.


Structure (also known as clearspan) tents have become quite popular in recent years. They were first developed in Europe and used the metric system of measurement so you will sometimes see M (for meters) when reviewing our different size of tents. Upright legs are staked to the surface and aluminum overhead beams are connected to the uprights, the shell will resemble a building. Fabric is then run through channels in the beams to create the tent top.

Structure tents can be built into almost unlimited lengths so they are capable of housing very large events. Because of the materials involved, they have a higher rental rate than the other two types of tents. The engineering of structures makes them the most weather resistant of all tents so they should be a consideration if your tent is going to be up for a long period of time or if your area is prone to winds.

Tent Size Calculator

We carry many different sizes of tents and one of the first determinations that you may want to make is what size of tent will work the best for you. If you already have a size in mind, great, but if you do not, just click on the Tent Size Calculator and fill in some basic information about your event. You will then get a tent size suggestion.

Tent Weights

Tent manufacturers engineer their tents to specifications based on securing the tent to the surface by using metal stakes or concrete anchors and these are the methods that we recommend. Your preference may result in an alternative method, e.g., weights. In those cases the customer will assume all responsibility for damages.


Most cities and counties require that the customer obtain a permit before a tent is installed, so check with your local fire department and/or city hall for requirements and compliance. Or ask one of our staff for advice.

Tent Staking & Gopher State One Call

The preferred method for securing tents is by driving metal stakes into the ground. The area where the tent will be set will need to be checked for those utility lines and the only way to do that is by using Gopher State One Call. They are a free one-call notification system in Minnesota established to inform the public about underground utilities that may exist at the tent’s job site. It is the customer’s responsibility to contact Gopher State One Call at 651-454-0002 or 800-252-1166 or go on line to gopherstateonecall.org to have your area surveyed. 

In Wisconsin call 800-242-8511 and in Iowa call 800-292-8989.

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