Plan A Local Business Street Fair To Bring In New Customers

A street fair in a local business district helps unite the community while also encouraging new business. Taking the time to plan ensures you host an event that everyone enjoys and benefits from.

Step #1: Secure Funding

There will be some costs associated with even the simplest street fair. Advertising, banners, and permits are the main expenses to plan for. If the businesses on your street are organized into a local small business association, the funding for the fair will likely come out of the association budget. Otherwise, you will need to come up with a final budget and set a fee for each business participating. You can also offset the costs for local businesses by bringing in outside vendors, such as food or craft vendors. Just make sure that none of the vendors will be competing with a local business on the fair route.

Step #2: Get Your Permits

Permit needs will vary depending on your municipality, but at the very least you will need a permit to close the street for the specified time. This will also require the rental of barriers and signage to notify motorists that the street is off-limits during the fair period.

Other permits that your city may require are:

  • Event permits
  • Vendor permits
  • Food or alcohol permits
  • Permits for open air music performances

In most cities, you can get information on all your permit needs at the city offices. You may also be able to apply for and pay for your permits online.

Step #3: Advertise in Advance

Before advertising, make sure you have the funding and necessary permits in place. Once you are sure of the date, have vinyl banners printed, such as through, with the date, time, and purpose of the street fair. Keep the graphics simple but eye catching. For example, use your local business association logo in conjunction with a fair-specific graphic, such as a fall leaf for a fall festival.

Hang the banners above the street at ½ to 1 block intervals four to six weeks before the event. This ensures plenty of time for people to plan for it. Local paper and radio ads can also help spread the word, if they are in your budget. If not, send a press release to local media and you may get some free advertising.

Step #4: Plan the Layout

Most businesses will set up their booths in front of their physical store, but you will need to plan the location for music stages, outside vendors, and any extras, like children's rides. Mark these on the ground with chalk or tape, numbering each location so the user can easily find it when they are ready to set up.

If funds permit and if your event is large, it can be well worth it to print vinyl signs to help visitors find some of the key attractions. The stage, children's area, and food area, especially if it includes a beer garden, are key areas for signage. You will also want signs at each entrance to the fair strip so passers-by know what is going on.

Having everything in place well in advance, and encouraging businesses to set up early in the morning or the night before, will make your event go more smoothly.