Wet weather contingency plan: tips and advice
To say that the weather in the UK is unpredictable would
be an understatement! Should we be preparing for rain or a heat
wave (or both!)? If it isn't enough to organise a myriad of
attractions and to find enough volunteers to run them, you need to
think about a wet weather contingency plan too!
Consider your options and agree a date (based on the latest
weather reports) on which a decision will be taken. Get the latest
weather information from the Met Office on Twitter.
If your event cannot be held outdoors, do you have an alternative
indoor venue or will the event have to be cancelled?
Go ahead, postpone or cancel?
The main things to consider when rain is forecast are do you
have enough room indoors for the main money-making stalls and will
people come along? If attendance is likely to be down and your most
profitable stalls are the BBQ and bouncy castle, can you postpone
your event? If you promote an alternative date early enough, then
hopefully parents will have kept it free (to both attend and
volunteer!). If you have no alternative but to cancel, make sure
that anything you buy is purchased on a sale or return basis. Get
non-perishable prizes for stalls that are not season specific,
allowing them to be stored and used for future events.
Assuming you decide to go ahead, consider whether stalls could
be moved onto hard standing such as a playground (to mitigate
against mud and slip hazards), or will everything need to be moved
indoors? If we only have drizzle and there are no high winds,
waterproof gazebos should provide sufficient protection from the
worst of the weather. These will need to be secured in place.
Obviously bear in mind potential hazards caused by any electrical
devices that are exposed to the elements.
There will undoubtedly be some restrictions on moving your
entire event indoors, i.e. coconut shies cannot be staked; welly
wanging needs sufficient space; limited numbers in case of
overcrowding. Make sure school staff, including caretakers are on
board with plans to use the school. Divide your list of
stalls/attractions into those that will go ahead in fine weather
and those that can be moved indoors if it rains. If using
classrooms, the PTA will need to put everything back as it was. A
great tip is to take photographs of each room, print these out and
stick them on the door. Chances are a different team will be
clearing up to the one that set up so any attempt to put classrooms
back to their original state will be much appreciated by the
Rain and/or high winds will present a problem for bouncy
castles, climbing walls and similar attractions. If you are booking
something like this from an external supplier, check what
alternative solutions they can offer in the event of inclement
weather. Some may allow you to postpone your booking to an
alternative date, others may be able to provide a different
attraction more suited to indoor use (space allowing). Check
When selling space to stallholders (or arranging for external
performers to attend), make your wet weather policy clear in
agreement documents. If you plan to go ahead outdoors whatever the
weather, then use wording along the lines of, 'The fair goes ahead
no matter what the weather, so come prepared with rain or sun
protection. There will be no refunds made in the event of inclement
weather.' Give external suppliers a contact number for enquiries
and let them know when a decision will be made, i.e. by 5pm two
days prior to the event.
Risk assessment and site plans
Bear in mind that any decision to move your fair from the school
field will need to be taken with enough time to carry out a risk
assessment. You may be able to speed up this process by having two
site plans prepared. This should include:
As your Christmas fair is likely to be held indoors, much of
your risk assessment for an indoor event can hopefully be based on
Melanie Joslin: 'We have similar problem this
year, going all out and having a much bigger fair. We are keeping
the main hall clear just in case we have to bring some games inside
- the rest will have to suffer outside! But it's not going to
James Crockford: 'We have a few external
suppliers that won't come if it rains - bouncy castle and ice-cream
van, etc). However, we don't pay if they don't come. The rest of
the stuff we fit into the hall and the classrooms.'
Kirsty Warwick: 'We hold our fair in a local
park so just borrow lots of gazebos. A couple of years ago it
rained but people still stuck around to see the childrens'
performances - takings are down on inflatables as we can't run them
but everything else carries on.'
Sally Sommerville: 'Pray and hope there is no
rain! We have very limited wet weather options due to space so just
put up gazebos over the stalls and keep our fingers crossed!'
Claire Sands: 'We have cancelled a couple of
times due to weather as our biggest money makers are the BBQ and
bouncy castle. Both times the right call was made as weather was
appalling! We always have a back up date.'
Ruth Needham: 'We make two plans, one for
indoors and one for outdoors, it does make life a lot more
complicated mind. Last year it was half in and half out, as it was
too windy for some stalls outside.'
Lara Bradford: 'We came very close to
cancelling on the morning of our fair last year. But we stuck it
out through rain and gale force winds(!) and the sun came out for
the last hour. Luckily the main attraction - a circus - was indoors
but those of us under marquees nearly got blown away!'
Susan Wilding: 'We have been lucky so far… and
have our fingers crossed for this year. We have fairground rides
coming so it's up to them whether they make the journey if weather
is bad as they only pay us a commission. Biggest concern though is
whether or not people will bother to come out in the rain. I doubt
I would if I am honest and if I wasn't on the PA. It might make
sense to cancel and reschedule as all the hard work could be for
nothing if hardly anyone turns up.'
Allie Evans: 'We have always created a
downsized floor plan in previous years but our new head encouraged
us to use classrooms at Christmas so we are hoping the same will
apply for a wet summer fair.'
Julie Caines: 'I think even if it is raining,
something should go ahead. We have had to have ours indoors a
couple of times and although it's a bit disappointing we used some
of the classrooms as well as the hall. The Governors were outside
under an umbrella on the BBQ! We had a bouncy castle with a rain
cover just outside too but it depends how heavy the rain is. I know
a school that had a bouncy castle in one of their classrooms! So I
would not cancel, just scale down and work with what you have.'
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