Fresh Is Best
Both residents and visitors flock to local farmers’ markets to find fresh produce, artisan crafts and more.
By Katie Coakley • Photography by Dominique Taylor
Vail Farmer’s Market and Art Show
At 9:30 a.m. on a Sunday, you can stroll down Meadow Drive in Vail at a leisurely pace. Vendors are putting the finishing touches on their booths and a few early bird market-goers may be looking over the produce for the best-looking peach or bundle of radishes. However, just an hour or two later, this same street will be an undulating wave of people punctuated by a few four-legged friends — a colorful canvas brought to life.
Navigating the Vail Farmers’ Market more than 130 tents requires utilization of all your senses. The sun serves as a spotlight on the saturated colors that pop like the cherry tomatoes found at Wynn Farms’ stall. You drift a hand over the rough perfection of hand-woven baskets in reds, yellows, greens and blues before the perfect purple of an eggplant draws your gaze; you continue onwards. A slight breeze picks up the notes from a guitar and delivers them to your ears, urging you to stop and listen for a while before the smoky scent of roasting pork winds its way into your nose and you’re drawn to the multitude of food tents, suddenly hungry. You sample everything.
It’s a beautiful Saturday morning in Minturn and the market is in full swing. Pat Hamilton’s rich voice welcomes folks as they start their wander through the tents. It’s a casual stroll — no one is in a hurry. Small stops occur as strollers pull alongside, then gradually overtake each other, friends exclaiming over the growth of one child, the addition of another.
This is the heart of the Minturn Market. More than just an opportunity to snag the season’s first peaches or indulge in a gourmet grilled cheese, the market functions in much the same way as markets have over the past few centuries. It’s a place to meet, mingle and munch — with plenty of opportunities to find that perfect thing that you didn’t know you needed, to boot.
The smell of roasting green chiles beckons, but perhaps a wide-brimmed hat to help block the sun is a good first purchase. Drawn by the laughter and entreaties of the Funguys, you’re persuaded to sample chanterelles. After admiring hand-painted clogs, chat with artist Linda Drake over a collection of her brightly colored tea towels before realizing that a hat from Double Black designs is the perfect birthday present for your best friend back home.
Finally, the smell of Cheese Louise’s gourmet melts becomes too tempting to resist, so you snag a seat under a red umbrella to indulge. You grin as you hear a little girl describing the balloon animal that she just received. Satiated and smiling, you’re convinced there’s no better way to spend a Saturday morning.