How to Be a Food Vendor at an Event

Food vendors attempt to appeal to event managers and the attending crowds.
Food vendors attempt to appeal to event managers and the attending crowds. (Image: Jason Florio/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Big events that draw large crowds offer food vendors an opportunity to make sales on a nearly continuous basis. However, foods sold from outdoor booths and carts present potential safety hazards. This prompts local governments to have regulations for temporary food service vendors and send inspectors to insure the regulations are followed. All event vendors learn the local government regulations and comply with them in order to reap the profits of food sales at high-traffic events.

Things You'll Need

  • Food product
  • Food storage
  • Refrigerator and/or freezer
  • Fry vat or grill
  • Triple sink, dish soap and sanitizer
  • Local licenses

Establish a food product you can sell from an outdoor cart or table with simple accommodations such as electric and water connections. Select a food item that has a broad appeal but stands out from the common hot dogs, cotton candy and funnel cakes to get the event management's attention. Add vegetarian or special cultural items to your menu. Plan for restocking to keep up with sales demands during high-traffic events.

Develop a service cart or table-top method of storing, preparing and serving your product. Decorate your cart in a special way, and outfit the service staff in appropriately decorative costuming to help your operation appeal to the event staff. Incorporate a grill or fry vat for cooking foods. Include a triple sink with running water to wash, rinse and sanitize utensils, which is required by most local government regulations.

Check the local regulations for food vendors in the county or city of an upcoming event. Make sure you have all the necessary business licensing and tax identification numbers the locality requires. Prepare your booth or cart with all the mandated equipment for serving your food product.

Contact an event coordinator to request permission to participate in an upcoming event. Make your contact well in advance of the event. Event managers sometimes schedule vendors for large scale shows as much as a year in advance.

Send in an application before the due date with the required fees and photographs that show off your vendor cart and employee uniforms. Stress the high degree of cleanliness and customer satisfaction that you and your staff uphold. Use restaurant or catering references if you have not worked at an event thus far.

Pay any inspection fees associated with an event you are working. Submit to any inspections of your food service operation before and during an event. Inspections of temporary food service booths or carts is mandatory in some areas.

Tips & Warnings

  • Ask all event coordinators who turn you down for the reason why. Change the elements that prompt rejections in order to get accepted in the future.

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