A permit is only required if the vendor/participant is serving food (with or without charge) to the general public (judges are not considered the general public). If the participant does not sample or sell food to the general public, only to the judges, then no permit would be required for the participant.
The NYS Sanitary Code treats both free sampling and selling as service to the public, so either activity would require a permit. Erie County does not currently have a blanket permit option for temporary food service operations. There is a maximum fee of $1,000 per operator at an event, but this would only apply if a single operator (corporation, individual or organization) was the listed responsible party for a number of stands that would exceed $1,000 in total fees.
If you have any additional questions, or would like any additional information, please call 716-961-6800.