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Party Tents and Canopies

Party tents are canopies designed to accommodate large outdoor gatherings such as weddings, fundraisers and parties. Of the various kinds of canopies, party tents are, on average, the largest in terms of square footage, with the very biggest providing over 4,000 square feet of coverage. Party tents come in a variety of styles, of which we might identify four basic types: Pole tents, frame tents, star shade tents and navi tracks. Pole tents, the party tents of choice among professional party providers, are framed solely by stand-alone poles and tension ropes: The poles prop up the roofing, which is kept tethered to the ground via rope. Lacking a dedicated frame, the pole tent is the lightest of the various kinds of party tents, and can with the addition or subtraction of a few poles, be expanded and retracted at will. The chief disadvantages of the pole tent are the relative difficulty of assembly — at least as compared to frame tents — and the obtrusive presence of the poles, which are situated throughout the party space.

Frame tents are party tents held erect by an interconnected support system, which runs like a rib cage directly underneath the canopy roofing and meets the ground via metal leggings posted along the length and at the four corners of the tent. Frame tents are sturdier, less vulnerable to the ravages of the wind, than pole tents; they are also easier to erect and, unlike pole tents, provide for a party space completely clear of interfering tent supports. On the downside, frame tents, whose support system consists of substantial amounts of metal alloy, are weighty and potentially difficult to transport. They are the party tent of choice at official gatherings — i.e., political, musical and corporate events.

Weightier still is the navi track, which is the largest of the four types of party tents (and probably the largest type of canopy available for purchase). These massive, peak-roofed structures have the appearance of houses — could in many cases very well be houses (of mansion-like proportions), were one to replace the polythene exterior with brick or vinyl siding. Like a house, Navi tracks are almost entirely enclosed, with openings, sometimes literally doors, to accommodate the comings and goings of revelers. Running across the length of the siding are Palladio-style windows, which, along with its bleached white color scheme, give the navi track a distinctly classical cast. Probably for that reason, navi tracks are frequently to be found at weddings and various affaires de la bougeoisie.

The fourth essential type of party tent is the star shade tent (shaped, as the name suggests, like a star). These are peak-topped pole tents, whereby a single, central pole props up a single piece of fabric that extends, stretched to the utmost, to several points on the ground, where it is nailed into place. Star shade canopies are certainly eye catching, and as such are ideal for trade show entrepreneurs looking to attract the attention of wandering attendees. But star shades have some practical utility as well. They're light and structurally simple; and by their splayed canopy tops they provide added shade and significant stability and wind resistance.

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