Special Event Information for Organizers and Vendors

Public Health inspects vendors at special events who provide food and beverages to the public, and non-regulated health professionals who offer a personal service to the public (including tattooing, body piercing, nail services, etc.). We also support special event organizers and vendors to help them meet requirements in the Ontario Food Premises Regulation 493/17 and the Ontario Personal Service Settings Regulation 136/18 under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

Public health does not inspect private events and an application form or approval is not needed to host the event. A ‘private event’ would refer to any event that is inaccessible to the general public and has a set list of attendees (e.g., weddings, staff parties, etc.).

Public health will work closely with special event organizers and vendors to help create a safe and healthy community. 

Event Organizers

Event organizers have the following responsibilities:


Complete the items below if food/beverage vendors are participating:

  1. Complete the online Special Event Organizer Form (online) or Special Event Organizer Form (PDF) at least 30 days prior to the event.
    • Note: If the event takes place on City of Guelph property, please see Special events planning - City of Guelph about submitting an application.
    • Note: It is the organizers responsibility to ensure an adequate number of washrooms available. For recommendations on the number of toilets please contact your local sewage hauler.
  2. Have each of your food and beverage vendors complete the online Special Event Food Vendor Application Form. Each vendor is responsible for returning a completed form to Public Health at least 14 days before the event. 

Complete items the below if vendors will be offering a personal service to the public (including tattooing, body piercing, nail services, etc.): 

  1. Review the Personal Service Setting (PSS) Checklist for Event Organizers
  2. Provide a copy of the Personal Service Temporary Application Form (PDF, 2 pages, 408 KB) and Personal Service Setting (PSS) Checklist for Event Vendors to each of your personal service vendors. Each personal service vendor is responsible for returning a completed form to Public Health at least 30 days before the event. All personal service vendors must have Public Health approval before participating in the event. 

If vendors will be offering alcohol to the public, please provide them a copy of the Safe Service of Alcohol Checklist for their reference. 

Please note: Event organizers must ensure that all food and personal services vendors are aware of their responsibilities as outlined below. 

Event Food Vendors

Event food vendors have the following responsibilities:


  1. Complete the Special Event Food Vendor Application Form (online) or the Special Event Vendor Form (PDF).
  2. Review the Special Event Food Vendor Requirement Package (PDF, 13 pages, 730 KB). 
    • View the resources at the bottom of the page for safety tips for special events and requirements for a public health inspection. Reminder: All foods served, displayed or offered for sale must come from an inspected facility.
    • Ensure you plan to have at least one certified food handler on site at the event at all times. Public Health recommends having multiple certified personnel on site to cover breaks or absences. See Food Safety Training & Certification for details on how to get certified.

Call 1-800-265-7293 ext. 4753 or email PHI.Intake@wdgpublichealth.ca for more information. 

Exempt Food Vendors  

Food vendors affiliated with a church, service club or fraternal organization are exempt from the Ontario Food Premise Regulation 493/17, however, they are not exempt from the Health Protection and Promotion Act. These vendors may qualify for an exemption for a special event and will need approval from Public Health. Exempt vendors must still submit a Special Event Food Vendor Application Form

Event Non-Regulated Health Professional Personal Services Vendors 

Personal services vendors have the following responsibilities:


  1. Submit the Special Event Personal Services Vendor Application Form (online) or the Personal Services Temporary Application Form (PDF).
  2. Review the Personal Service Setting Checklist for Temporary Events – for Vendors.

Call 1-800-265-7293 ext. 4753 or email PHI.Intake@wdgpublichealth.ca if you need more information or to obtain fact sheets summarizing infection control requirements for the service(s) you intend to offer. 

Please note: All personal services vendors must have approval from Public Health before participating in an event. 

Event Petting Zoo Exhibits

Event petting zoo exhibits have the following responsibilities:

​At least 30 days before the event

  1. Include on your special event application that there will be a petting zoo exhibit onsite with vendor contact information.  
  2. Ensure on-site exhibit set up includes:  
  • Hand hygiene facilities (hand washing stations or alcohol-based hand sanitizer). located at every exit with appropriate hand washing signage.  
  • Direct traffic in one direction – exit and entrance should not be beside each other 
  • Signage in many locations directing visitors to wash their hands after visiting the animals and before eating 
  • Provide adequate barriers for animals that are not to be touched  
  • Do not allow the public to milk cows or drink unpasteurized milk 
  • Ensure animals in the exhibit are up to date on rabies vaccinations  
  • Clean and disinfect touch points (barriers, railings, etc.) periodically.    
  • Remove animal faeces/other waste regularly and store in a secure area.   
  • Ensure first aid kit is available for potential injuries. 

Smoke-Free Ontario Act

 All special events will operate in accordance with the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 (SFOA).

All special events will operate in accordance with the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 (SFOA). Violators may be fined.

Please reference your local municipalities’ by-laws for additional requirements.

Places where smoking tobacco, e-cigarette use, and smoking/vaping cannabis are prohibited under the SFOA, 2017: 

  1. Enclosed public places; 
  2. Enclosed workplaces; 
  3. On the grounds of primary and secondary schools; 
  4. Indoor common areas in condominiums, apartment buildings and university/college residences; 
  5. Child care centres; 
  6. Places where home child care is provided (whether or not children are present); 
  7. Places where an early years program or service is provided; 
  8. Reserved seating areas of outdoor sports or entertainment venues; 
  9. Restaurant and bar patios; 
  10. Children’s playgrounds and public areas within 20 metres of playgrounds; 
  11. In cars transporting children under 16 years of age; 
  12. Sporting areas (excluding golf courses), adjacent spectator areas and public areas within 20 metres of these places; 
  13. The outdoor grounds of public hospitals, private hospitals and psychiatric facilities; 
  14. Nine metres from any entrance or exit of a long-term care home or independent health facility; 
  15. The outdoor grounds of prescribed Ontario government office buildings; 
  16. Public areas within 20 metres from the perimeter of the grounds of elementary and secondary schools; 
  17. The outdoor grounds of a community recreation facility and public areas within 20 metres of the perimeter of the grounds; 
  18. Public areas within 9 metres of a restaurant or bar patio.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What qualifies as a special event? 

A special event that requires public health approval is any event that is open to the public where food or services may be provided. Examples can include fairs, concerts, festivals, grand openings, etc. All public special events MUST be approved by a public health prior to event opening. 

Do I have to submit a special event application if the event is private?  

No. Public health does not inspect private events that are held on private or public property.  

Examples: Weddings, Birthday Parties, Bridal Showers

Will my application still be approved if it is submitted less than 30 days in advance? 

Event and vendor applications submitted beyond the deadline will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.  

Applications for special event organizers must be submitted within 30 days prior to the event.  

Applications for special event vendors must be submitted within 14 days prior to the event.  

Can food products be prepared in my home kitchen? 

No. All food products must be prepared in an inspected facility. All food products must also be purchased from an inspected source.  

Can I use a community kitchen to prepare my food products?

Yes. Community kitchen rentals can be used to prepare food products that come from an inspected source. See the Check Before You Choose website to find a community kitchen near you. Proof of kitchen rental may be required by a Public Health Inspector at any time.  

Important Reminder: All food products must be transported in a way that will hold the temperature. Hot foods must be held at 60°C or above and cold foods must be held at 4°C or below during transportation to the special event.  

Do I still have to submit an application if I am inspected by another health unit?  

Yes. An application is needed for all vendors that wish to participate in the special event and serve food or provide a service to the public. Be sure to include your latest inspection report in your special event application for public health review.  

What if I want to serve alcohol at the event?  

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) regulates the consumption and sale of alcohol.  

Please visit Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario for more information.  

**Please note: Public Health does require notification of alcohol at private and special events as per AGCO requirements but is not involved in the approval process.  

Do I have to be a certified food handler to serve food at an event? 

Special event organizers and food vendor owners must ensure there will be at least one certified food handler onsite at the event at all times. Public health recommends having multiple certified personnel onsite to cover breaks and/or absences.  

Visit Food Safety Training & Certification for details on how to get certified.

Public health will ask to see a copy of your food handler certification. Be sure to have a copy on site for review at all times.  

What is a food grade sanitizer and when do I need it?  

Sanitizer is used to kill microorganisms that may be present on food contact surfaces or dishes within a food preparation setting.  

Approved food grade sanitizers are:  

  • Chlorine: 100 ppm (2ml of unscented chlorine bleach in 1 litre of water)  
  • Quaternary Ammonium: 200 ppm  
  • Iodine: 25 ppm 

A sanitizing solution for food contact surfaces must be prepared and tested as often as needed to maintain the required concentration if any food handling occurs onsite at the event. A sanitizing solution for dishwashing must be prepared and tested if any dishwashing occurs on site at the event.  

See Special Event Tips for Sanitizing Fact Sheet (PDF) for more information and tips on sanitizing at special events.  

Should I bring my sanitizer test strips to the event?  

Yes. Test strips should be on site for verification of sanitizer concentrations. Make sure you have a good supply of test strips within their expiry date on hand prior to the event.  

Public health inspectors may ask to see test strips during their inspections.  

Can hand sanitizer or gloves be used instead of handwashing?  

No. Hand sanitizer or glove use are NOT substitutes for handwashing. All food handlers should wash their hands after potential contamination and before food handling with warm water, liquid soap and paper towel.  

How often should I wear/change my gloves when food handling? 

Gloves are intended to be used for a single task and discarded after each use. Gloves are not re-usable. Gloves should be changed as a task is changed. Hands should be washed with warm water, liquid soap and paper towel prior to putting on a new set of gloves.  

Am I required to have mechanical refrigeration or can I use coolers to transport and store my cold food? 

All hazardous foods must be always stored below 4°C. Depending on the length, location, and volume of food products at the event mechanical refrigeration may be needed. If perishable foods can be transported and stored in coolers with ice throughout the entirety of the event the event, coolers and ice packs may be used. However, you are required to have a plan in place for ice replenishment and or ice pack rotation. In addition, all methods of cold storage must have an indicating thermometer present to ensure the temperature is maintained at 4°C or less.  

If I am volunteering my personal services, do I need to be from an inspected premise?  

Yes. All individuals offering services to the public must be routinely inspected by Public Health.  

As a personal service setting vendor, can I clean and disinfect my equipment at the event?  

No. All equipment must be single use, disposable.  

Reusable equipment must be placed in a separate container with a lid after use and transported back to the personal service settings for cleaning and disinfection.