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Special Events

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When a Permit is Required

A special event requiring a permit includes any event held in the city in which at least one of the following applies:

  1. Amplified sound is to be used
  2. A street, sidewalk or other public way or place is closed for the benefit of the event attendees
  3. A temporary alcoholic beverage license is required or an existing on-sale alcoholic beverage license is carried to the event location as part of a community festival
  4. The event will adversely impact a considerable number of members of the public 

 Rochester Code of Ordinances Chapter 8-11 applies to permits for special events in the City of Rochester.

Applying for an Event Permit

Submit a paper application with all supporting materials and required fees to the City Clerk's Office. The base permit fee is currently $50. Depending upon the event plans, additional permits and fees may be required. 

All applications must be approved by the City Council prior to issuance of a permit.

Special Event Permit Application

Application Submission Timelines

Applications for special events need to be received by the City Clerk's Office at least 30 days prior to the event date. If an application is submitted less than 30 in advance, the City Council must grant special authorization to approve the shorter window. There is no guarantee an event application can be processed and approved in less than 30 days.

Larger events require an application a minimum of 60 days in advance.

Because applications must be approved by the City Council, there must be enough time for a full application review, usually by multiple departments, before it can be presented at a City Council meeting. There is no ability to obtain an approval if there is no City Council meeting before your planned event.

Event Considerations

Taking time to carefully assemble your event application with all needed details about your plans will help make the permit application process go smoothly. There are a number of factors and considerations you will want to think about as you work on the application.

Other Potential Required Permits

Right-of-Way Obstruction Permit

If you are requesting the closure of a street, sidewalk, or other public way or place as part of your event, you will also need to apply for a right-of-way obstruction permit with the Public Works Department.

With your special event permit application, you will also need to submit a detailed layout of any proposed closures and a designated route around the closures. Arrangements for traffic control must be done by a certified vendor using the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices standards and submitted with the application. Law enforcement officers must be used at all traffic controlled intersections.

Street closures also require notification to all impacted residents or businesses. Such closures are not allowed for locations where there are no other access options for the businesses or residents. You will be responsible for paying meter bagging fees for any closures that include parking meters within the closure area.

Temporary Liquor License

If alcohol service is planned as part of the event, you will need to indicate under what authority alcohol will be provided. A temporary liquor license is one potential option that will require a separate application with the City Clerk's Office.

Any alcohol service at an event will require security to be approved by the Police Department. This may include fencing of the area of alcohol service, specific plans for ensuring only those over 21 are consuming alcohol, and providing security in the form of off duty police officers. The number of off duty officers required for an event will be determined by the Police Department in reviewing the event application.

Tent Permit (includes other membrane structures and canopies)

If you plan to put up a tent, canopy, or other temporary membrane structure as part of your event, you will need to contact the Fire Department to determine if a tent permit is required.

Fireworks Display Permit

Fireworks displays also require an additional permit through the City Clerk's Office and Fire Department.

Needed Event Information

Event Basics

The permit application needs to include information about the entity or entities sponsoring an event, the event name, date and time of the event, and its location. A detailed description and diagram of the area to be used at the event location for any activities must be included with your application.

In indicating the event time, please also provide details about any set up and tear down time required for the event in addition to the planned event hours.

Please also provide details about the estimated attendance for your event, including whether tickets are being sold, and any plans for monitoring and limiting attendees if necessary.

Food and Beverage

Provide a detailed description of your food and beverage plans for the event, including any alcohol service. This should include information about any vendors who will be participating in the event or supplying food or beverages. If a caterer will be used, the application can serve to provide the required notification to the City Clerk and Police Chief about plans to provide alcohol under a state catering license incidental to the service of food.


City trash cans are not an acceptable plan for dealing with any waste generated as part of an event. As part of the application, provide details about how sanitation and garbage disposal will be handled, including specifics about the number of trash stations planned to be deployed as part of the event, and what entity will be providing those receptacles, including plans for pick up. This cost is the responsibility of the event sponsors.

Also include information about any toilets and wash stations to be provided as part of the event, including the vendor providing these and the number planned.

City teammates will review these plans and advise if additional quantities will be required based upon the event plans.

Emergency Needs

Any street closures must include identified routes for emergency vehicles through the event area. As part of the application, describe how you plan to meet any emergencies, including medical needs, occurring during the event.

The Fire Department and Police Department will both review all event plans to determine if any additional services are required from those departments as part of an event.