Street Festivals & Temporary Food Stands

The Health Department provides inspections for food vendors at festivals and gatherings. The food vendors are checked for the requirements needed to protect the public from food-borne illness. Exceptions from this type of permit and inspection include events that are fundraisers for a tax exempt organization and limited-menu booths.

Please contact our office with any questions concerning permit requirements. You can also view the inspection grades for street festivals and temporary food stands.


Street Festival & Temporary Food Stands FAQ

What do I need to do if I want to open a business that prepares and sells food in North Carolina?
Check with Orange County Environmental Health for more general information on obtaining a food establishment permit.

Some food manufacturing that is not retail or packaged foods are inspected under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture. View a chart to help you decide (PDF). Special tax-exempt and private membership groups may also be exempt from the Rules and NC Food Code. If it is determined that you do not need a permit from the Health Department, you may be asked to fill out this exemption form (PDF). It is also important to include other agencies, such as the building inspections office and the fire marshal, in planning approvals.

How are food service establishment grades determined?
Each establishment that has a food service establishment permit must be evaluated by an Environmental Health Specialist. This is an unannounced inspection evaluating the food service establishment for compliance with the North Carolina Food Code (PDF). The focus of the inspection is to ensure that the operation is practicing safe food preparation methods including:

  • Approved food source
  • Elimination of cross-contamination
  • Final cook temperatures and cooling methods
  • Hand washing and employee hygiene
  • Refrigeration and hot-holding temperatures

Any violations are summarized on an inspection sheet, and an overall score is computed. A perfect score is 100 percent. The inspection grades are then posted for public viewing at the establishment and can also be viewed on our website.

How often are food service establishments graded?
Inspection frequency is now based on risk factors that require anywhere from 4 inspections to 1 inspection per year. These risk factors are based on cooking temperature, holding temperature, approved food sources and food handling practices that are essential for preventing food-borne disease.

Does everyone working in a food service establishment have to wear gloves?
With the 2012 adoption of the North Carolina Food Code, food employees may not touch ready-to-eat food with their bare hands. Employees must use approved utensils (spatulas, tongs, etc.), deli tissue, or single-use gloves when handling ready-to-eat foods.

I want to sell food at a festival. What is required?
Check with the event organizer first to get information regarding food sales. Submitting an Application that gives details on your food booth. If you are already a permitted Mobile Food Unit, you will not need to fill out an application, but the event organizer will still need to get information from you.

Vendors who are not already permitted as a Mobile Food Unit or who are not a tax exempt group will need to submit an application with a fee to the event organizer who will turn the applications in to Environmental Health. Our office will inspect your food booth on the day of the event approximately 2 hours before the scheduled opening.

What do I need to do in order to sell food at a street festival?
Contact the event organizer and submit an application to determine if a permit will be required. The event organizer will then send the application to the Health Department and get back to you with results. If you have specific questions about whether a permit will be required, you may contact our office.