How to Become a Carnival Food Vendor

Carnival food vendors sell such items as popcorn and cotton candy.
Carnival food vendors sell such items as popcorn and cotton candy. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Becoming a food vendor involves setting up a booth or food truck temporarily at a carnival. Carnival food vendors own and operate their booths and work during the late spring, summer and early fall seasons. In order to start the business, a carnival food vendor needs to research local laws, create eye-catching displays and purchase booth equipment.

Things You'll Need

  • Vendor’s license
  • Mobile food unit license
  • Temporary restaurant permit
  • Carnival concession stand
  • Carnival booth
  • Food truck
  • Kiosk
  • Wholesale supplies
  • Credit card reader

Obtain a vendor’s license, a mobile food unit license and a temporary restaurant permit from the Department of Health to prepare and sell food at a carnival.

Buy or lease a carnival concession stand, carnival booth, food truck or a kiosk through a local or national supplier.

Develop a menu containing popular handheld foods, such as hot dogs, cotton candy, snow cones or ice cream cones. Purchase wholesale supplies, such as ingredients, plates, napkins, utensils and a cash register from a local warehouse price club. Contact a local cellphone carrier to purchase a credit card reader. Credit card purchases may also be made through regular cellphones and smartphones.

Make a list of the local seasonal carnivals and apply to become a vendor by contacting the event’s organizer. Most carnivals require vendors to fill out an application, provide vendor license or permit documentation and pay a booth fee. Some carnivals require vendors to carry vendor insurance.

Hire workers to help with food preparation and selling or to stand in during breaks. For shorter training periods, hire family or friends.

Publicize the carnival food business one to two weeks prior to the event. Promote through newspaper ads, on social networking sites and hospitality trade magazines.

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