Creating an Event in Springfield

Planning a special event in Springfield? Here's what you need to know.

By Melissa Haase and Cora Scott, City of Springfield Public Information Office; reprinted with permission.

Springfield is a city that welcomes special events. From major conventions and sporting events to community-based festivals, parades and athletic activities, Springfield is proud to host hundreds of events each year.

Due to the growing number of special events in the city each year and a need to streamline the process, the city’s Department of Public Information took over special event permitting in 2015. Special event permitting coordinator Sharon Spain serves as the City’s central point of contact by guiding event planners through the process and maintaining a public calendar of events.

The Public Information department also coordinates with event planners to ensure the public receives notice of road closures and/or expected traffic delays prior to the event.

When is a permit required?

If any of the below conditions exist, a special event permit is required.

The event includes outdoor live and/or amplified music:
  • This applies to all zoning districts, except residential.
The event is on private property and includes:
  • Outdoor carnival or circus
  • Amplified sound in the downtown area
  • Fireworks and attendance of 50-plus people
  • Multiple liquor licenses, 50-plus people and charging entry fees.
The event is on public property and includes:
  • Outdoor carnival or circus
  • Erection of a tent with sides (larger than 400 square feet)
  • Erection of a tent without sides (larger than 700 square feet)
  • Street festival
  • Amplified sound
  • Parade, race or street closure
  • Selling merchandise, food or drinks
  • Installing a stage, band shell, trailer, van, grandstand, bleachers, or portable building
  • Placement of portable toilets
  • Fireworks and attendance of 50-plus people
  • Multiple liquor licenses, 50-plus people and charge entry fees
  • Blocking City-owned property
  • Placement of pedestrian boundary markers blocking the sidewalk
  • Inclusion of electrical or plumbing hookups to CU connections on the Square or Jubilee Park.

Planning an event

If a permit is required, the Director of Public Information and Civic Engagement, Cora Scott, asks event organizers to consider the questions below before applying:

  • How many people do you expect to attend?
  • Where will the event be located? If you’re not sure where you would like to hold your event, we would be happy to help you determine a safe route or event venue.
  • Do you need to rent City/Park Board property?
  • Do any of the events involve the use of public streets/sidewalks/property?
  • Will you be using tents or hanging signs/banners?
  • Will food or alcohol be sold?
  • Will you need to hire extra duty police officers?

Applying for the permit

The special event permit application is online at If you need additional assistance, contact special event permitting coordinator Spain at 417-864-1105 or to make an appointment.

Once the application is submitted, the event organizer will receive confirmation of receipt of the application and supporting documentation required. This confirmation is not a guarantee of permit issuance, nor is it a guarantee of your desired date and/or location. This is simply a confirmation that the City has your materials on file and is actively processing the permit.

Next, the event organizer will be contacted within 10 business days regarding specific requirements needed for the event; about any known conflicts with the route, date, or location for the proposed event; and will be made aware of any additional permits or requirements. Spain will work with event organizers to create the best and safest event for all involved parties.

Some requirements can take four to six weeks to comply with, depending on the event’s unique characteristics, so event organizers are encouraged to apply as early as possible.

“What you have to keep in mind is that the Public Information department coordinates with many other City departments, such as Police, Fire, Health, Licensing, Traffic Management, Risk Management and others, to respond to your application. When applicable, the corresponding departments will contact you directly, following a review period of no more than 10 business days to discuss requirements for your specific event. These requirements, however, could take you weeks to meet, depending on your specific situation and event,” Scott says.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, the City requests that special event permit applications be submitted at least 60 days prior to the event date in order to secure the desired date and location for the event.

All completed paperwork is due 30 days prior to the event date. Those who fail to meet this deadline may be denied a permit.

Helpful hints

Advance planning and knowledge of the intricacies of the City’s special event permit process can increase your chances of obtaining a permit in a timely manner. Below are the more time-consuming – and most important – aspects of the process.

Rental of a Park or the Expo Lot

To rent a City-owned park or the vacant lot at 735 E. Trafficway (Expo Lot), it requires a rental contract, rental fee, deposit, and liability insurance. For more information on the Expo Lot contact the special event permit coordinator Spain at 417-864-1105 or For events taking place solely on Parks property, contact Springfield-Greene County Parks at 417-864-1049.

Obtaining Insurance (up to six weeks)

Obtaining special event insurance could be time-consuming depending on your specific situation.

General Liability ($1 million policy)

Events held on public property (streets, Park Central Square, Expo lot and parks) require special paperwork, including proof of general liability insurance with the City included as an additional insured and the completion of an agreement that holds the City harmless for any actions arising out of your specific use of the property.

It’s important to make sure that the legal entity (organization or an individual) signing the event permit application, matches with the entity listed on the certificate of insurance and the hold harmless agreement.

While the City cannot advocate for any one specific insurance product or company, it can assist event planners by offering a Tenant Users Liability Insurance Policy, or TULIP. The program is an easy to use, fast method of insuring most types of events and activities taking place at various facilities and venues throughout the United States.

The TULIP Program provides low cost general liability insurance to “third party” users of various venues and facilities for events. It protects both the user and the facility against claims by guests who may be injured as a result of attending an event.

Liquor Liability ($1 million policy)

For events selling or serving alcohol, each liquor vendor is required to provide liquor liability insurance naming the City as an additional insured is required. A third party agreement may be required with your liquor vendor.

  • Obtaining catering/picnic licenses to sell or serve alcohol (up to 10 business days)
    Events selling or serving alcohol require catering or picnic licenses issued by the state of Missouri. The process to obtain a license could take five-10 business days.
  • Meeting tent guidelines (up to 10 business days)
    The best way to ensure that the proper safety measures are in place for your events that include tents, is to consult directly with the Springfield Fire Department. The tent permit process may include a tent inspection. Please allow five-10 business days.
  • Ensuring public safety 
    Ensuring public safety is everyone’s job, but the Springfield Police Department can be any event planner’s best friend. Corporal Chris Welsh is your personal liaison to help design your event to be cost effective and safe.

When applicable, SPD determines the number of officers needed for your event. Events such as races, walks and parades and events with an attendance of more than 1,000 have considerably larger public safety needs than others. The cost for hiring extra-duty Springfield police officers is $28/hour with a minimum four-hour shift. SPD charges a $50-$165 administrative fee for the schedule software needed to accommodate the scheduling of extra-duty officers.

For events with more than 500 in attendance, City Manager Greg Burris determines whether or to what extent, additional police and fire marshals are necessary for crowd and traffic control.

“No two community events are the same, so there is no simple process or explanation for how an individual event must be permitted. We are here to assist them through the process,” Scott says.

Timing is everything when organizing an event. Scott asks that event organizers involve the City in their planning as soon as possible.