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Event Planning

Main Street Car Show in Vancouver, Washington

When it comes to choosing a great location for your upcoming special event, Vancouver Parks and Recreation has got you covered! Whether it’s a Community Event, Race, Fundraiser or Neighborhood Gathering, you can choose the perfect setting.

Looking to rent a room in one of our community centers?
Visit our Rentals, Events & Fees page.

Special Event Permits

The City of Vancouver is proud to host a variety of community and neighborhood events, festivals and races on an annual basis. To promote the success of special events, ensure the safety of event participants and spectators, and minimize public inconvenience caused by the event, a Special Event Permit is required for events that exceed 100 participants.

For more information about holding a Special Event in the City of Vancouver or at Esther Short Park, please contact Stacey Donovan at 360-487-8630.

Will I Need a Special Event Permit?

If your event has any of the following activities you will most likely need a Special Event Permit:

  • Any aspect of the event occurs on public space (sidewalks, roads, City property or property owned by someone other than you).
  • Your event has over 100 participants.
  • There is a chance (even remote) that the safety of participants and/or residents of the City of Vancouver may be affected if aspects of the event are not handled properly (food, electrical wiring, tents, stages, generators, etc.)
  • Your event requires the City of Vancouver's services (parking, closure of streets, etc.)
  • You will be erecting a stage, tent (10x10 or larger), bleachers or booths.
  • You will be selling and/or serving alcohol on public property or the event will spill over onto public property where alcohol is involved.

Special Event Permit Application Documents

  • Certificate of Insurance: If using City streets, curbs or parking lane, sidewalks, rights-of-way or city facilities or property.
  • Traffic Control Plan
  • WDOT Highway Approval: using, closing or restricting Hwy 14, I-5, I-205 or any State Highway.
  • Site Use Permission: If the event is held on a site not owned by the applicant.
  • Park/Shelter Reservation Form: Is the event is held at a City park with a picnic shelter.
  • National Park Service: A permit for use of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.
  • Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) Permit: If alcohol use is planned for your event, submit WSLCB Special Occasion License with your application.
  • Food Handlers Permit from Clark County Public Health: For any food service establishment in the street, public right-of-way and City facility.

Special Event Permit Application Process

  1. Obtain a Special Event Permit Application.
  2. Contact other agencies from which you may need to obtain a specific permit.
  3. Submit your completed Special Event Permit Application at least 60 days prior to event. 
  4. Pay the $75 non-refundable processing fee upon submission of application. Checks may be made out to "City of Vancouver" and may be mailed along with the application, or paid by cash, check or charge at City Hall, located at 415 W. 6th St. Vancouver, WA 98660. You can also make a payment over the phone by calling 360-487-8454. Fee increases to $150 for applications received less than 60 days prior to event.
  5. Attend an Events Team Meeting if applicable - this meeting will be scheduled by appointment only upon acceptance of the completed application. These meetings usually take place on Thursday mornings and last 30 minutes.
  6. Adjust your event according to the recommendations from City staff and the Events Team.
  7. Sign Letter of Agreement for your event.
  8. Schedule any on-site inspections needed for your event.

Expressive Activities

A Special Event Permit is NOT required for expressive activities, the purpose of which is to exercise the right of free speech; HOWEVER, the City asks that organizers of such activities notify the City of their plans so that the City can adequately prepare for any public health and safety concerns, as well as attempt to prevent conflicts of use of public spaces associated with the activity.

Park Use Permits

Depending on the type of event you are hosting, you will need to get a Park Use Permit from Vancouver Parks and Recreation. A Park Use Permit gives you permission to bring special items and equipment to the park and describes any approved special services or other park staff assistance. Please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page to find out if your event requires a Park Use Permit.

For more information about holding events in parks (excluding Esther Short Park), please call Jen Thomas at 360-487-7019.