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Food Service

Festivals and Other Special Outdoor Events


Panaramic view of a county fair from a distance. Visible are tents and carnival rides.

Warm weather brings many opportunities for communities to hold annual festivals and celebrations where food will be prepared and served.  Many city and township associations or other organizations are involved with planning these types of events.

When food is prepared or served to the public, licensing is normally required by the Michigan Food Law of 2000, as amended.  Licensing requirements do not distinguish between paid, free will offering or free food.

A Temporary Food Establishment” means a food establishment which operates at a fixed location for a temporary period not to exceed 14 consecutive days.  Examples include:

* A food booth at a fair or festival
* A catering kitchen
* A restaurant preparing food offsite
* A rental hall
* A private organization serving food to the public

Important considerations to ensure a safe event include planning your menu, estimating the number of meals you plan to serve; check the projected weather forecast if you will be cooking or serving foods outdoors.  Food safety begins when you purchase your supplies and does not end until your event is over.  No home prepared foods are ever allowed at temporary food events.

If you are wondering whether or not a temporary food license is required for your event, please call the Department.

Click on the links below to complete a temporary food license application as well as learn about the requirements for establishment a temporary food booth.

Temporary Food Establishment License Application Instructions
Temporary Food Service License Application
Temporary Food Establishment Food Safety & Licensing Guide
2024 Fee Schedule

Other types of licensed food service establishments operating at festivals, fairs, etc. are described below.

Transitory Food Service Establishment (Special Transitory Food Unit or STFU): A food service establishment that can move and operate anywhere throughout the state of Michigan. Typically, an STFU operation is temporary in nature, but is not bound by the 14-day time limit set by the Michigan temporary food service establishment laws. An STFU will have all parts of a fixed food service establishment but be mobile. An example would be most food trailers or trucks that operate at fairs and festivals.

Below is a link to download the Notice of Intent Form. Once you download and fill out this form, save it to your computer and email it as an attachment to the email address below for your county.

STFU Notice of Intent Form

Mobile Food Service Establishment: A food service establishment that can move and operate anywhere throughout the state of Michigan but is limited by the requirement to return to a commissary location at least once every 24 hours.  Unlike an STFU, a mobile food service establishment does not have all the parts of a fixed food service establishment on board. For instance, a mobile unit may not have the capability of ware washing or cooking food but may be able to hot or cold hold foods. An example may be a food truck that visits a downtown area each day but returns to its commissary to stock up and clean each night.