Strip Down/clear Up
By the time you come to consider implementing this part of the event arrangements, you will probably be elated, tired and full of new ideas for next year. But it is important that you put as much effort and care into the final phases of the event as you have put into the planning and delivery. The end is not far away, but there are some important considerations that you must address before you can put your feet up and take a well deserved rest.
Ideally when stripping down, the gates should be closed to keep the public off the site. Many stallholders and exhibitors will usually try to begin to strip down as soon as the bulk of the public have left, aiming to be nearly completed by or before the official closing time – for a quick getaway.
I would advise for safety reasons that you make it a condition of accepting a stall or display that stallholders and exhibitors must not start to strip down until a specified closure time. You should certainly ban vehicles from the site until official closing time, say 6 p.m. on the last day of the event.
If stallholders want to make an early departure and they begin dismantling stalls and rides with members of the public still walking around, you have two problems.
Firstly, the public will see the stalls closing early and perceive that your event is ‘closing’ and so they will leave, prematurely closing your event, upsetting other stallholders by cutting short their selling time.
Secondly, by packing goods and dismantling their stalls, they may accidentally cause injury to passersby. While boxing stock and dismantling stalls, they may bridge fire or block emergency access routes, introducing trip hazards or possibly leaving electrical feeds in a dangerous state. This problem is compounded if the stallholders who close early want to bring vehicles on site to collect their goods and display stands.
When the event has closed, stallholders will begin to transfer their stock to their vehicles and to strip down their stalls. All you have to do to help them is to give them easy access to the site. If you have not agreed with them that they remove all their own rubbish from the site, make sure that rubbish skips are available for their refuse. Wherever possible make stallholders and exhibitors responsible for removing their own litter from the site!
You must of course have marshals patrolling the stall areas to ensure that the stallholders do not try to abandon large quantities of rubbish and spoiled food – if they do, you will have to pay for its disposal!
Similar to stalls, simply allow the owner access for their transport and if at all possible keep sudden noise and flapping tarpaulins etc. to a minimum while the animals are being loaded. Make sure that skips are available for any manure and straw or other waste materials that are left. Make doubly sure that the stallholders are responsible for clearing up the mess and placing it in any skips provided.
Generally, fun-fare type rides are erected and stripped down regularly by their operators and because of this the crew/staff are very efficient. All they require is free access for their vehicles and a quick route out.
Again, tents are usually erected and stripped by dedicated contracted staff, who are very efficient. They may require assistance to clear lingering stallholders and event furniture and equipment, or to keep inquisitive children out of the danger area. Once collapsed, tents are rapidly rolled/folded up and loaded onto lorries. Easy access for heavy vehicles is a bonus for these teams.
With appropriate access, Portacabins can be removed quite simply, as long as the lorry can get in to a loading position, then they can either jack up the unit or crane it onto the transport lorry.
Records will have been kept as to what signs were put up at which locations. As with erecting signs, when teams remove them they should make sure that they do not cause danger or obstruction to others in the process. On-site signs can be removed easily, but any approved off-site signs will be more difficult, especially if heavy traffic is still dispersing.
It is possible that you can get a head start by beginning to collect signs pointing towards the event site during the early afternoon of the last day. Anyone coming will certainly have arrived, so the signs pointing towards the site are no longer required. Remember to follow all safety procedures (see Chapter 16, ‘Sign posting’).
If the event is to be repeated next year, remember that you will have to make arrangement for the safe storage of the signs until they are required the following year
Make sure that the proposed storage is clean and secure. Signs can be quite expensive and you don’t want to have to replace them all because they went missing, or when required next year they are buried under 1000 tons of cattle feed. Signs must be readable too, so ensure that they don’t become so dirty in the storage available that they have to be replaced. You may consider sharing out the signs to store in the garages of the event management staff until next year as long as you record who took what for storage, so you can recall them to use next year.
Remember to maintain security at this stage. With the busy confusion of strip down, everybody is far too busy to bother with what is happening even a short distance away. It is far too easy for a truck to arrive and load up with valuables such as stock, generators, a display exhibit, or a stallholder’s trailer or caravan etc. They depart with the general flow and then the legitimate owner of those goods suddenly realises that they are gone, forever.