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Temporary Events

Temporary Retail Food Establishment - A Temporary Retail Food Establishment is a food establishment that operates at a fixed location for a period of time not more than 14 consecutive days in conjunction with a single event or celebration. Temporary events may include town celebrations, fairs, and festivals. Temporary events do not include private events that are serviced by a licensed caterer, such as private parties, weddings, or banquets. Temporary Retail Food Establishments must comply with all applicable sections of the Indiana Retail Food Establishment Sanitation Requirements 410 IAC 7-24 (PDF) (Indiana Retail Food Code).

Event Coordinator

Coordinators of temporary events are required to register with the Food Service Division of the Porter County Health Department informing us of the dates and times of the event with all food vendors listed (including not-for-profit organizations). This registration allows the Food Service Division to ensure that the food vendors participating at the event are made aware of local permitting requirements and of local and state food codes and guidelines prior to the event. We ask that the Event Coordinator complete a Temporary Event Coordinator Registration Application (PDF) and return it to the Food Service Division of the Porter County Health Department at least 30 days prior to an event. There is no charge for the registration. Temporary food vendors are required to obtain a temporary food vendor permit at least 7 days prior to operating at an event. It is the responsibility of the event coordinators to ensure their food vendors obtain approval from the Health Department prior to operating at their event. Any food vendors who do not comply will not be allowed to operate.

Temporary Event Food Vendor Requirements

Permit Requirements

Food vendors attending Temporary Events are required to complete a Temporary Event Food Vendor Permit Application (PDF) and return it with payment to the Food Service Division at least 7 days prior to operating at the event.

The temporary food vendor permit fees are:

  • $20/day-$100 max at greater than 7 days ahead of the event
  • $30/day-$150 max at 3-7 days ahead of the event
  • $40/day-$200 max at 48 hours or less ahead of the event

A separate permit is required for each unit that operates at the event. The Food Service Division will not issue permits in the field. Any food vendor who attempts to sell or sample the food without a valid permit will be asked to leave the event.

For food vendors operating at multiple events throughout Porter County, we also offer a Partial Year Retail Food Establishment Permit (PDF) that is valid for six (6) consecutive months for $150, or an Annual Temporary Food Establishment Permit (PDF) for varying amounts depending on the type of menu/operation. There may be additional requirements based on the menu prior to the approval of these permits. Please contact the Porter County Health Department Food Service Division, at 219-465-3525, for requirements of a partial year or annual food permit and to determine the best permit for your operation and menu type.

Certified Food Handler Requirements

According to Indiana Certification of Food Handler Requirements 410 IAC 7-22, at least one food handler at a food establishment must be a certified food handler. Proof of a certified food handler must be provided at the time of the temporary food vendor permit application. Some exemptions are allowed based on the menu. Exempt food items include precooked hot dogs or sausage, heating and serving pre-cooked foods, popcorn or kettle corn, cotton candy, funnel cakes, nachos with cheese, hot pretzels with sauce, nonalcoholic and alcoholic beverages that are not potentially hazardous. See the Indiana State Department of Health website for more information about the certified food handler requirements and a list of entities offering training.

Commissary Requirements

Commissary Definition – This means a licensed food establishment in which food, food containers, or food supplies are kept; handled; prepared; packaged, or stored; from which foods are catered, and mobile food units or pushcarts are serviced.

No food service operations are allowed in a private home or living quarters (Reference Sections 423 and 424 of the Indiana Retail Food Code).

All foods must be prepared on-site at the event or in a licensed food establishment (commissary). No home-prepared foods, home-canned foods, or foods that have been stored in a home are allowed. A temporary food vendor must have a licensed commissary for any off-site food operations, such as food preparation, storage of food and supplies, and cleaning of equipment and utensils. Proof of a commissary must be provided at the time of the temporary food vendor permit application. If the temporary food vendor does not own a licensed food establishment to operate from, then the food vendor must have a signed letter of approval or commissary agreement (PDF) from the owner of a licensed food establishment. If the temporary food vendor owns a licensed food establishment and it is located out of county or out-of-state, then a copy of the food establishment license must be provided at the time of the temporary food vendor permit application.

Note: A self-contained mobile food unit may be approved to operate without a licensed commissary. The self-contained unit is required to report to an approved servicing location for such things as sewage disposal, obtaining potable water, and cleaning the unit. Self-contained mobile food unit requirements.

Temporary Food Permit Exemptions

A temporary food permit is not required if only selling or sampling pre-made or prepackaged, non-potentially hazardous, low-risk foods and beverages – no temperature control required, and no on-site production/preparation. All foods and beverages must be obtained from approved sources. A minimum of a handwashing station (PDF) is required if portioning the pre-made or prepackaged, non-potentially hazardous food for sale or sampling at the event.

Regulated food establishment/temporary food vendor permit decision chart (PDF).

Temporary Food Vendor Guidelines

Click here to review Temporary Food Vendor Guidelines on operating at a temporary event and setup requirements (PDF). Please email foods.division@porterco.orgto contact our temporary event manager or call 219-465-3525 for temporary food permitting requirements and event setup and operation requirements and guidelines.

Printable Applications and Forms