Columbia Parks and Recreation
Creating Community through People, Parks and Programs
Parks & Recreation Dept.
A Park Special Use Permit is needed when one or more of the following criteria applies to your event or activity:
Note: A different application is required for geocaching and letterboxing. Click here for more information.
The cost of holding a special event at a park or shelter depends on several factors. Below is a list of the various fees and deposits that may be charged depending on the event type. The minimum fee for approved use of a park or trail is the $33 Special Park Use Fee.
When facilities are used semi-exclusively by the renter and the renter charges participation fees, the renter will be charged per participant as outlined in the chart below. A $75 per day reservation fee is due at the time of the reservation. The balance of the fees (over $75) based upon actual usage is due 10 days after the event.
|Shelter Reservation||$35||Performance, cleanup, and damage bond||$200|
|Large Shelter Reservation||$45||Gate key||$20|
|Tent Fee||$33||Water spigot key||$50|
|Concession Permit Fee||$50 Booths 1-3|
|Concession Permit Fee||$100 Booths 4-6|
|Concession Permit Fee||$15 each booth 7 and above|
|Special Park Use Fee||$33|
|Participant Fee - Adult||$2.30 per participant/per game or event/per day|
|Participant Fee - Youth||$2.15 per participant/per game or event/per day|
|Ticketed Special Event Fees||$100 per acre fee, plus
$1.00 per ticket sold for tickets ranging between $1.00 - $20.00
$2.00 per ticket sold for tickets ranging between $21.00 & Higher
It is recommended that applications be submitted at least four (4) weeks prior to your event. Applicants desiring to hold major events, especially those that are publicly advertised, should submit their application as early as possible, as a pre-event meeting with City staff may be required. Applications submitted less than 4 weeks in advance will be considered on a case-by-case basis. All fees associated with the event are required to be paid at least 2 weeks prior to the event.
You should reserve the shelter right away, even before submitting your Park Special Use Application. Otherwise, by the time your permit is approved, the shelter may no longer be available. If your permit is denied, the shelter reservation fee is refundable. To reserve a shelter, see Picnic Shelter Reservations.
For most applications, within 2 weeks. For major events, especially those that are publicly advertised, it may take up to 3-4 weeks and may require a pre-event meeting with City staff.
In addition to a Special Use Permit, events that include any of the following items will also require proof of public liability insurance coverage and a certificate of insurance naming the City of Columbia as an additional insured. (See also official Codes and Ordinances - Chapter 17, Section 17-134.)
|$1 million public liability insurance requirements (per occurrence)|
|Events involving moderate risk such as: festivals, concerts, contests, athletic camps and events, exhibitions and celebrations that are open to the general public and|
|expected attendance of 1,500 or less and|
|do not include the use of any high risk device or the participation in any high risk activity.|
|The landing or take-off of individual hot air balloons (excluding commercial rides).|
|Any other event or activity that, in the judgment of the director, involves a moderate risk of injury.|
|$2 million public liability insurance requirements (per occurrence)|
|Events that involve a high risk such as: festivals, concerts, contests, athletic camps and events, exhibitions and celebrations that are open to the general public and|
|expected attendance of 1,500 or more or that involve a high risk of injury.|
|Hot air balloon festivals or competitions.|
|Events involving animals for show, display or rides.|
|Events involving devices that entail risk of injury including, but not limited to, inflatables (such as bounce houses), dunking booths, amusement or carnival rides, mock weapons, or battery or gas powered devices/toys.|
|Any other event or activity that, in the judgment of the director involves a high risk of injury.|
In addition to the Park Special Use Application, the following items may be required depending on your event.
Two main criteria affecting the evaluation of the event are:
The mission of the Columbia Parks & Recreation Department is stated as follows:
"The Columbia Parks and Recreation Department is committed to delivering effective, courteous, and responsible leisure services. In order to assist all citizens in the proper use of leisure time, we strive to provide adequate type, quantity, and quality of leisure opportunities. In delivery of these services, participants shall be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect. It is our commitment to be accountable for the maintenance, preservation and development of the natural resources which have been entrusted to us."
As previously mentioned, the Department works in partnership with event organizers and sponsors in order to provide an event that will provide recreational value to the participants, and at the same time, preserve the natural resource. Thus, the Department gives priority in the allocation of park space to those special events which are compatible with the Department’s mission.
For the purposes of special event approval, compatible events can be defined as those which focus on recreational activities which are physical, social, cultural, artistic and/or environmental in nature. Events whose primary purpose is not compatible with the Department’s mission are generally not approved although they may be considered on a case-by-case basis. On occasion, the Department does approve events which are not compatible with the its mission, but have a significant interest to the city. Examples include events of economic or tourism interest and/or civic, provincial, national or international events. It should be noted that these events may have additional special conditions of use placed on them.
It is important to recognize that sites which accommodate special events are for public recreational use first, thus the regular use of a park must be respected. Most of Columbia’s parks accommodate a variety of uses including both active and passive recreational opportunities which may occur on a casual and/or organized level. The majority of parks have not been designed to accommodate large scale-events, as many lack the necessary amenities, such as, washrooms, parking, and/or access to water or power to support major special events. In addition, most parks have differing features and requirements; thus, what is appropriate in one park may not be appropriate in another. With this in mind, the objective for the Department is to match events to an appropriate park site. This is accomplished by evaluating the event and the site using the following criteria:
Site Suitability Criteria
|Site Suitability Criteria||Evaluation Description|
|Compatibility of the event with existing uses/users of the park including public safety||Compatibility refers to regular park use in the general sense - passive, active or natural as well as the impact the event on other’s enjoyment of the park, etc. The evaluation will be based on: whether the area is appropriate for the event; whether other uses of the park can continue during the event; whether the event impacts more the immediate site (e.g., noise, trash, traffic); and whether there are any safety concerns regarding the scheduling of the event in the area.|
|Intensity and frequency of
other park uses/users
Intensity and frequency refers to the level of both scheduled and casual park use. It is recognized that parks do have limits on the frequency and number of events. Thus, efforts are made to distribute events across the park system as well as regulate the frequency on a specific site.
|Park condition - protection and preservation||The scheduling of an event can not be at the expense of the park’s regular use, especially with regard to environmental sensitive areas. It should be noted that parks differ in the level of programming that they can accommodate. Thus, the intensity of programming may differ from park to park. The evaluation will focus on whether the area’s current condition can withstand the activity, as well as whether the scheduling of an event could possibly damage the park beyond immediate repair. The event will be evaluated based on impact on the natural environment, including natural and cultural resources, riparian areas, wetlands, and sensitive species. The season, time, intensity, duration of the event will also be evaluated.|
|Availability of amenities on site||To lessen their impact on the immediate surroundings, large events are scheduled at parks with the necessary support amenities, such as, washrooms, parking, access to alternate transportation, waste receptacles, etc.|
|Type of Event||Description|
|Activities at a park shelter consisting of 200 or more people||Private functions with or without food services, generally restricted to larger picnic shelters.|
|Runs, Walks, Bike Events or Races||Participation open to public, may focus on fundraising and/or “cause” awareness. Donations or pledges possibly collected on site. Includes races where participants pay an entry fee and follow designated courses. Events may involve the use of amplified sound, staging, tents, temporary road or trail closings, and/or the sale of event-related items.|
Tournaments are restricted to designated athletic facilities.
Note: All softball, baseball, soccer, football and lacrosse tournaments and games are to be scheduled through the Department’s Sports Programmer. Special Event Permits may be needed for supplemental items such as the erection of tents, sales of tournament related items or food and beverages. First contact is with the Sports Programmer Supervisor (573-874-7466) to determine field availability.
|Weddings||Any wedding held at a park location other than at a reservable shelter.|
|Concerts & Theatrical Plays||Musical or theater events, consisting of live performers. Participation is open the general public. May be restricted to designated areas.|
||Community, cultural, political, or religious events. Participation may be open to the general public or to a targeted group. May focus on fund raising and/or “cause” awareness. May involve entertainment, food and beverage service, staging, public address sound systems, sale of event-related items, etc.|
|Festivals||Multi-faceted events, participation open to the public. Usually involve booths, staging, tents, public address sound systems, sale of event related items, etc. May involve food and beverage services. Large festivals have extensive set up and take down requirements.|
Includes the burning of logs, charcoal or other fires outside of the designated picnic grills.
Note: Bonfires are allowed at the designated fire pit at Collins Shelter, Stephens Lake Park and do not require a Special Use Permit.
Pony or horse rides either operated by a commercial vendor or by a private owner.
Note: only non-profit organizations may be authorized to collect funds.
|Hot Air Balloons or Apparatus for Aviation||
Includes hot air balloons that either want to land or lift off from a park. Note: All radio-controlled planes and self-propelled rockets are not permitted.
Any misrepresentation as to the nature of the event, the number of attendees expected, contact or payment information, or any other falsification of permit documents will result in the immediate cancellation of the event and forfeiture of fees paid and may also result in denial of future permit requests and/or legal action.
Special events are of great value to the City of Columbia as they contribute to the cultural and ethnicity of the City. A number of these events also have significant economic benefit through increased tourism, and many events also serve as major fund raisers for various non-profit organizations.
Special events are those activities which require the designation of exclusive use of an area and/or require the approval of conditions of use as outlined under the Park Special Use Permit guidelines. Many of the City’s special events are sponsored by non-profit organizations that organize and conduct these activities. Often, the City’s role with some special events is primarily limited to providing the facility or park. Since the City does not directly provide staffing or direction during these events, it requires a mechanism to delegate the control of a site to an event organizer/sponsor. This is accomplished through the Park Special Use Permit approval process.
City policies require that no person or organization shall advertise, organize, hold, or conduct any special event or activity in or on City park or recreation property without first having received a valid Park Special Use Permit.
Only regular licensed concessionaires acting by and under the authority of the Parks and Recreation Director can sell items at a park or facility.* Permission may be granted ONLY to non-profit agencies, with a $50 Concession Permit Fee charged. If you are a non-profit agency, permission to sell items at your event may be obtained by filling out a Park Special Use Application. Concessionaire is responsible for obtaining any other licenses required for sales. Collection of monies is restricted to the approved event area ONLY. Absolutely no solicitation of funds from general park users allowed.
Non-profit agencies must be registered with the State of Missouri and provide their State Charter number on the Park Special Use Application. (See MO Secretary of State website [search word: "non-profit"].) Religious organizations or educational institutions not required to register with the State must provide documentation of their tax-exempt status (IRS determination, articles of incorporation, or audited financial statement).
The following excerpt is from Chapter 355 - Nonprofit Corporation Law in the Missouri Corporation Statutes.
Section 355.025 - Purposes for which organized
Nonprofit corporations may be organized under this chapter for any one or more of the following or similar purposes: charitable; benevolent; eleemosynary; educational; civic; patriotic; political; religious; cultural; social welfare; health; cemetery; social; literary; athletic; scientific; research; agricultural; horticultural; soil, crop, livestock and poultry improvement; professional, commercial, industrial, or trade association; wildlife conservation; homeowner and community improvement association; recreational club or association; and for the ownership and operation of water supply facilities for drinking and general uses; and for the ownership of sanitary sewer collection systems and waste water treatment facilities; or for the purpose of executing any trust, or administering any community chest, fund or foundation, to further objects which are within the purview of this section. No group, association or organization created for or engaged in business or activity for profit, or on the cooperative plan, provision for the incorporation of which is made by any of the incorporation laws of this state, shall be organized or operate as a corporation under this chapter.
As a recipient of federal funds from the U.S. Department of Interior, the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department operates programs subject to the nondiscrimination requirements of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act Under Title VI; the U.S. Department of Interior strictly prohibits discrimination because of race, color, or national origin in its federally assisted programs. This Department is also committed in both policy and practice to enforce and implement all required provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.