VAIL — Summer Sundays wouldn’t be the same without the Vail Farmers’ Market. This year, the event is spilling into early fall, too.
The market’s season usually runs from late spring into late-ish September. But this year’s soggy spring led organizers to push this year’s market season to Oct. 2. Sybill Navas, special events coordinator for the town of Vail, said the market had shifted its focus this year to more fresh food and produce. The late spring meant those items weren’t available early on, but they are still available now.
“We thought, if the produce is there, let’s keep it coming,” Navas said.
The idea to add another two Sundays to this year’s schedule seems to be popular. Stephen Porter, owner of Nicky’s Quickie, said he signed up as soon as he was able.
Of the 130 or so vendors who signed up for the regular season, market organizer Angela Mueller said between 90 and 95 have signed up for the extra two weekends. That said, Mueller said it’s unlikely any new vendors will come, given the cost of paying both a sales tax fee and town sales taxes.
But a couple of vendors who signed on for the extra weekends are excited about the opportunity.
Chris Manning is the co-owner of the Swedish Clog Cabin in Lionshead. Manning’s company has had a booth at both the Vail and Minturn markets for several years, and he credits those market booths with helping sustain the business when the Arrabelle at Vail Square was being built several years ago. Market booths also help boost sales during soft times in Lionshead. A Sunday in October will be particularly useful, he said.
Manning said the Vail market also gives him a level of exposure his store in Lionshead can’t.
“Our booth is right at the Covered Bridge,” Manning said. “It’s a great marketing tool for us — it’s a great way to be able to show folks what we have.”
And, because the market booths don’t have the kind of inventory the retail shop has, shoppers often have to come by the store — “our 10-by-20 (foot) tent is just a taste,” he said. And that’s good for Manning’s Lionshead neighbors.
People who come by the Clog Cabin may discover other shops in the neighborhood or might rediscover a restaurant they hadn’t visited in a while.
At the nearby Dakota Craftsman shop, store owner Debbie Hein agreed that it’s hard to get the kind of exposure in Lionshead that a Sunday at the market can provide.
“It’s a great thing — you’ll get people who haven’t been to Lionshead,” she said, adding that “everybody that’s in town in the summer comes.”
Hein said she’s signed up for the Sept. 29 market but has a conflict with the Oct. 6 date, having long ago signed up for a fair in Cedaredge.
But, Hein said, she’s in favor of extending the market’s season in coming years.
So is Manning — sort of.
“It’s kind of a double-edged sword,” he said. “I love it for the business, but I have three kids ... but that’s how it goes.”
If these extended market dates are successful — and organizers expect between 8,000 and 9,000 people to attend the two weekends — the market season just might be longer in the future.
“The plan for next year is to go into October,” Mueller said, while acknowledging that weather can be a roll of the dice for the early and late dates on the calendar.
“The first year I (ran the market), it dumped snow the first week,” Mueller said. “You just never know, but vendors seem willing.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2939 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.