Even with the most careful planning, fate can cook up a catastrophe, as event producer Patti Coons & Associates found out when setting up a four-day event at a resort at the foot of the Colorado Rockies. The setting appeared to be the perfect site for a prominent insurance company to celebrate its 100th anniversary.

According to Sheri Hirsch, vice president of production for Patti Coons, the plan was to capitalize on the superb scenery by slating a series of outdoor events for the 900 attendees, culminating in a custom rodeo-plus-fireworks-plus-dance “extravaganza.” But that was before mighty Mother Nature weighed in with four days of rain, which created a six-foot trench in the planned tent area for the rodeo.

To cope with this unexpected development, the event team pulled new permits and then used a CAD program on laptop computers to re-plot the tents on higher ground.

“Two tools were required to make this new plan happen — level heads and a Bobcat bulldozer,” Hirsch says. “The tent was moved in no time. Then we put our tech director inside the Bobcat and told him to carve us some dry land. And he did, inside and outside the tents. We built dirt walls and sandbagged them to keep the rain water running along the outside of the tent. We put down more and more straw; it was coming in by the truckload. We put down a new type of plastic tent flooring that kept us from slipping.”

In the end, all went smoothly. And Mother Nature even left a parting gift, says Hirsch. “A magnificent double rainbow meant just for us.”

Lisa Hurley, editor of Special Events magazine, can be reached via email at lhurley@primediabusiness.com.