« All News

Press Release: Forest Preserves of Cook County Open to Concessions, Classes & Other Vendors

Trent Sinnet selling honey at Swallow Cliff Woods

This summer, the Forest Preserves of Cook County is offering businesses an opportunity to sell goods and services, from food to fitness classes, at playfields and other locations. With some 62 million annual visits, the Forest Preserves seeks to enhance visitors’ convenience and enjoyment while supporting its mission to protect and preserve the county’s open spaces.

“Concessionaires can purchase a permit and sell food from a push cart or truck, sell items like bug spray, and provide bike repair or other services in the Forest Preserves,” says Business Development Manager Lenora Dailey. “The Forest Preserves is excited to offer a variety of contract opportunities including multi-year contracts, which are available as part of the new concessions program.” Solopreneurs, fitness instructors, food trucks, and other businesses are all welcome to apply, Dailey says.

Beekeeper Trent Sinnett is one of about a dozen permitted vendors already operating in the Forest Preserves. Sinnett says he’s turning a profit selling organic honey at $10 to $15 per jar (with discounts for multiple purchases) from the field adjacent to the 250 limestone stairs up and down the hill at Swallow Cliff Woods-North Forest Preserve.

He calls the stairs a “conveyor belt” of prospective customers, all potentially attracted to the health benefits of his organic honey. Sinnett, 61, knows about physical fitness as a personal trainer and represented the U.S. Army in nearly 100 marathons, biathlons and other competitions over 35 years.

Stair climbers who value healthy food browse and buy his honey between laps or after they’re done, he says. “They’re not running up that hill because of the view, they are trying to get in shape. These are my peeps!”

Concession Opportunities

Concessionaires can sell food, beverages, goods and services from traditional stationary concession stands, push carts and food trucks. A permit is required, and concessionaires must complete a new permit annually. Cost is $250 for a daily permit, $500 for an annual permit, plus a $25 application fee. Key elements of the application include:

  • Business license and proof of insurance
  • Location(s) where you plan to sell
  • Schedule of when you plan to be on site
  • Items you plan to sell, with prices
  • For food sales: health, food handler, food truck and all other relevant permits and licenses
  • Permits will be good through November 14, 2023
  • Vending will not be allowed on trails, but vendors can use trails to get from one picnic grove to another inside a single Forest Preserve location

More details and a downloadable application form are available on the Concessions Opportunities page.

Multi-Year Contracts

While Concessionaire Permits run for a single year and must be renewed, multi-year contracts are also available. The Forest Preserves also updated its contract types this year:

  • Pilot Concession Contracts: Envisioned for unique and interesting collaborations with individuals, businesses or nonprofits that share the Forest Preserves’ commitment to health and wellness, sustainability and strong communities. These can run for up to two years.
  • Class/Tour Contracts: These are opportunities for businesses expecting to generate less than $25,000 per year while operating in the Forest Preserves. These can run up to five years.
  • Small and Large Concession Contracts: Contracts to do up to $25,000 per year in business are available for up to three years Businesses anticipating more than $25,000 in revenue can apply for five-year or longer Large Concession Contracts. Vendors interested in one of these contracts are encouraged to register as a vendor on the Forest Preserves’ Doing Business & Partnerships Page.

Learning more

Those interested in learning more about the new opportunities can get all the details on the Forest Preserves’ Concessions page. For questions or more information please reach out to fpd.concessions@cookcountyil.gov or 708-771-1024.


About the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Don’t you sometimes just want to escape? Explore the natural beauty of Cook County for an hour, a day or even a night. When you’re surrounded by 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful there’s no better place to feel free.