If you're on the hunt for either Colorado food to eat or gift, or homemade arts or crafts to wrap up as Christmas gifts, you're in luck. There's a slew of markets on the horizon - three arts and crafts style markets taking place this weekend and later this month, as well as a new food-centric market called the Edwards Winter Market, which debuts this Sunday and takes place weekly through March. Here are the details.
• Edwards Winter Market
Just because it's winter doesn't mean you can't still be a locavore, thanks to the new Edwards Winter Market that starts up this Sunday and continues through March. The market specializes in food more than crafts, as it was specifically started to increase access to local food and also give food producers and food artisans a longer market season, according to organizers.
"With Osage Gardens and Early Morning Orchards as vendors, there's fresh produce and storage fruit," said Cassie Pence, a member of Slow Food Vail Valley and one of the market organizers. "We also have grass-fed meats, wild salmon, honey and goat cheese, along with prepared foods like fresh bread, cookies, and pasta. You can do your weekly shopping here, if you want."
So far, 15 vendors have signed up to sell products ranging from dog treats and green smoothies to organic grass-fed beef from Colorado River Ranch in Dotsero and frozen Colorado lamb.
"Jumpin' Good Goat Daily will be there with amazing goat cheese from Buena Vista, and the owner Dawn will also be frying up cheese curds - look out, Midwesterners," Pence said. "We have a couple vendors doing homemade dog treats, great gift ideas, and a woman who sells gluten free, dairy free and nut free food, called Bee Nut Free. Her treats would make excellent gifts for your friends with food allergies."
You can eat lunch at the market, too, with fresh soups, sandwiches, spinach pies and more, so "come hungry," Pence said.
The market runs Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. beginning this Sunday and going through March 31 (no market on Dec. 30). It takes place at CMC in Edwards and is free. The market is still accepting drop-in vendors, contact Theresa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Alpine Arts Center Holiday Market
The third annual Artists' Holiday Market is set for this weekend at Alpine Arts Center in Edwards. More than 15 local artists will display and sell handmade holiday gifts, including pottery, paintings, jewelry, knitted quilts, hats and scarves, home accessories, metal sculptures, fused glass, greeting cards, and framed photography.
Sam Mizwicki is one of the featured artists and also a teacher at the arts center. He will sell printed cards, accessories and paintings this weekend.
"There are great local artists involved, with a range of available gift ideas," he said. "I hope everyone can make it out to support our local art community."
The Holiday Market will take place Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Alpine Arts Center, located in the Edwards Commercial Park. The public is invited to browse and shop for gifts, enjoy hot cider and cookies, and kids crafts will be offered from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily so they can stay entertained while parents shop. There is also an Artists' Reception set for Saturday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. with complementary appetizers and wine available for purchase at the bar.
"There is a special feel of community at the arts center during our Artists' Holiday Market and it always gets me excited for the holidays," said Lauren Merrill, owner of Alpine Arts Center. "I love coming in to all of the beautifully hand crafted gifts and art, holiday music, and the aroma of hot apple cider in the air."
Participating artists include Merrill and Mizwicki, along with David Mayer, Amy Dose, Marcy Tracy, Sara Melzer, Erin Lucero, Debbie Feeney, Nadia Olker, Joan Willoughby, Valerie Muspratt, Mickey Fried, Jennifer Cakir, Bianca McCarty, Mike Crabtree, Todd Buckendahlsm and Greg Deame.
Alpine Arts Center will also have an under $5 section with items perfect for stocking stuffers and smaller gifts, plus art supplies for sale in their store. Alpine Arts Center will remain open for drop-in activities such as paint pottery throughout the weekend from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visit www.alpineartscenter.org or call 970-926-2732 to learn more.
•-The Winter Market and Holiday Fair
This popular holiday fair returns to the Eagle County Fairgrounds Saturday. The event, which is the biggest craft and gift fair downvalley, takes place at the Eagle River Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Entry is free.
"This event supports locals and you can find almost everything. We have more than 60 vendors," said Holli Snyder, NRC 360 general manager. "People are really excited about the fair this year."
Snyder said the event features a great variety of holiday collectibles, wearables and edibles in a festive atmosphere. Carolers will perform throughout the day and a number of children's activities are planned on site. Santa will be on site to hear gift requests and poise for photos.
The first 60 people through the door who bring one or more non-perishable food item to help stock the local Salvation Army will receive a free gift of Enstrom's toffee pieces. Market-goers may also enter to win free tickets to the Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream show at the Pepsi Center in Denver the following weekend.
"This is be a great kickoff for the holiday season and to continue to bring events like this to the town of Eagle, people need to show up and support them," said Snyder. "Hopefully this weekend will be great time in Eagle."
After visitors have their fill at the 2012 Winter Market and Holiday Fair, they are encouraged to head to downtown Eagle for more shopping and the town of Eagle's annual tradition, the Christmas on Broadway parade, beginning at 6 p.m.