Special Event Guide

1. Overview

Planning a special event in the City of Kalamazoo? Before starting your application, read through this guide to make sure your event is a success. 

Check out the Special Event Fact Sheet(PDF, 563KB) to see the kinds of thing you'll need to be thinking about to host a successful event. 

2. Approval Time Frame

A Special Event request generally takes between one and two months to process. The factors that influence this time-frame include: the time it takes to receive recommendations from city staff, the next scheduled meeting of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (which meets on the first Tuesday of each month), and staff concerns or questions about a Special Event. 

Requests should be submitted at least 60 days in advance of your event, but please understand that this minimum amount of time for processing will result in you receiving notice of approval only one or two weeks prior to the event.

Please take this time-frame into consideration when planning your event, especially as it relates to signing service contracts, lining up sponsors, and developing a marketing plan.


3. Special Event Fees

Application Fees

New Special Events or One-Time Only Events | $80

Returning Special Events | $30 

New Block Parties | $85

Returning Block Parties | $35

Application fees should be paid when you submit your application. Event organizers will also be responsible for park rental fees and additional costs incurred for Public Safety and Public Services staff support, signage, and barricades. These actual costs will be billed following the event.  

Rental Fees

Bronson Park Full Day Rental (4+ hours) | $750

Bronson Park Half Day Rental (less than 4 hours) | $390 

Spring Valley, Milham, Upjohn, Farrell, LaCrone Park Rental | $600

All other City Park Rental | $360

Arcadia Creek Festival Place

Because of the size and scale of events at Arcadia Creek Festival Place, different fees apply. Learn more about hosting an event at Arcadia Creek Festival Place here.  

4. Serving Food

If you intend to serve or sell food at your event or to allow vendors to sell/serve food, this needs to be indicated on the application form. You will also need to contact the Kalamazoo County Health Department regarding sanitary regulations, inspections, and permits.

The use of LP Gas and/or an open flame for food preparation is subject to inspection by the City’s Fire Marshal (or their designee). The event organizer should contact the Fire Marshall at (269) 337-8285 to verify requirements and schedule any needed inspections.

Food preparation in Bronson Park is prohibited. South and Academy Streets (when officially closed to traffic) are the designated areas for food preparation at Bronson Park events.

Kalamazoo County Health Department   Temporary Food Service License Application

5. Serving Alcohol

To serve alcohol at an event in a city park the applicant needs to submit the Agreement for Serving Alcohol at City of Kalamazoo Parks. This request will be processed concurrently with the Special Event Application. The organizer will also need to apply for a special liquor license from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC). Only non-profit organizations can apply for and receive special liquor licenses from the MLCC and therefore only non-profit organizations can serve alcohol at events.

MLCC Special License Information   Agreement for Serving Alcohol at City Parks


6. Insurance Requirements

Depending on the type of activities at an event, the City’s Risk Manager may require proof of liability insurance. The type of insurance that is required is CSL General Liability Insurance in the amount of at least $1 million naming the City of Kalamazoo, its agents, employees, and officials as additionally insured. If alcohol will be served, Liquor Liability coverage will also be required. If you have questions about the City’s insurance requirements, please call 311 or (269) 337-8000 or email kzooparks@kalamazoocity.org


7. Tents or Shelters 

Temporary structures larger than 120 square feet that will be used for an event or gathering of 10 or more people must be permitted. This makes sure they are safe and properly secured, with clear exists and fire extinguishers nearby. This includes tents, canopies, air-supported structures like (bounce houses or slides), and structures supported by cables or frames. 

A detailed layout of the site should be included with this application. Please also include the written manufacturers specifications regarding installation of the temporary structure.

Inflatables & Bounce Houses

If an inflatable or bounce house is approved for your event, the following requirements will be strictly enforced:  

  • Inflatable structures need a permit and inspection from the city as well as proof of liability insurance.
  • If inflatables are on city property such as streets, they need the city of Kalamazoo listed as additionally insured.
  • A bounce house must be professionally set-up and be under strict adult (a person age 18 years or older) observation to prevent any over-capacity; that it adequately secured in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions; that the house be deflated if wind gusts approach 15-20 mph or in the event of rain and proof of insurance in the amount of at least $1,000,000 naming the City as an additional insured.

Guidelines for Tents   Application for Temporary Structure


8. Events in City Parks

If the City approves use of a park, you will have exclusive use of the specified park for the time and date specified. “Exclusive use” means use of all park amenities (water, electricity, restrooms, picnic shelters, band shells, trails) without interference from other groups. You may charge and collect fees for food and beverages, goods and services, and participation in event activities, if so indicated on your application. However, you may not restrict access to City parks or charge a fee to park at or enter a City park.


9. Events on City Streets

Parades, marches, and footraces that use city streets are the most costly events due the barricade rental fees and overtime hours for City employees and Public Safety Officers. Depending on the anticipated number of participants, an alternative to using city streets is for participants to stay on the sidewalks and obey all traffic signals. This type of march/walk does not incur charges beyond the application fee. If the estimated size of your group will be too large for city sidewalks, the Traffic Engineer will require street or lane closures. With the exception of some specific venues in the Central Business District, the City will not close major streets for events where the sole purpose of the closure is to create a special event area (i.e., an area for gathering, food preparation, vendor exhibits, etc…)


10. Other Considerations

Depending on the size and location of your event and the activities taking place at your event, City staff may require the submission of additional information and documentation:

  • The Fire Marshal may require you to identify one or more Fire Watch Personnel.
  • The Public Safety Department may require submission of a Public Safety Plan that addresses emergency vehicle ingress and egress; fire protection; emergency medical services; public assembly areas and the direction of both attendees and vehicles (including the parking of vehicles); vendor and food concession distribution; and the need for the presence of law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services personnel.
  • The Parks and Recreation Department may require submission of a site plan showing how you intend to set-up your event.


11. Block Parties

Holidays/Holiday weekends will be automatically denied (due to staffing constraints during these days). These include New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day.

Block Parties must take place between 8am and 5pm with cleanup finished by 6pm.