Farmers’ markets bring life to the valley
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Snow was still falling on the valley less than one month ago, but local farmers’ markets are sprouting up this weekend – it’s officially summer.
The Minturn Market and the Edwards Farmers’ Market kicked off Saturday, while the Vail Farmers’ Market and Art Show begins today. These three upvalley markets have become a summer identity for the valley. They’re a destination not only for locals, but for visitors and passers-by, too.
“My view is that all the markets, started by Minturn and grown to a huge scale by Vail, are a huge part of who we are in the summer,” said Vail Valley Partnership Executive Director Chris Romer. “They are great ambient events and add a community vitality for both locals and resort guests. It’s hard to imagine summers without these events.”
The Minturn Market began 13 years ago, and founders wanted it to help build a better retail base in Minturn, said Randy Milhoan, one of its founders.
That business boost never seemed to happen for the longest time, Milhoan said, but suddenly the whole downtown Minturn business community is looking vibrant again.
The hope is that the Minturn Market will also be vibrant this year.
Minturn Country Club owner Tom Ricci said the market is great because it brings people into Minturn, although he’s sure the market hasn’t helped his business on Saturdays.
“It has not brought us new dinner business, but I think it’s great for Minturn,” Ricci said.
People, and lots of them, are why the Vail Farmers’ Market and Art Show is viewed as a wild success. The Vail Farmers’ Market attracts an estimated 9,000 to 12,000 visitors to Vail every Sunday throughout the summer, according to the Meadow Drive Partnership, which puts on the weekly event.
The Vail Farmers’ Market also claims to be the largest of its kind in Colorado.
Sybill Navas, the town of Vail’s special-events coordinator, said the town of Vail supports the market because it’s a great experience for anyone who comes into town.
“They’ve built it up into just an amazing festival,” Navas said.
She added that it can be a Catch-22, however, because many merchants who aren’t in the festival’s immediate walking distance don’t necessarily feel the same benefits as the businesses close by, but the overall feeling is that it’s a good event for the community.
When there are events in Lionshead on Sundays going on simultaneously with the Farmers’ Market in Vail Village, the entire business community feels as if it’s on a more level playing field, she said.
“Anecdotally, we hear that people drive up from Denver for (the Vail Farmers’ Market),” she said. “I think it’s a tremendous community asset.”
Mark Tamberino, the owner of Kirby Cosmos BBQ Bar in Minturn and Edwards, sets up a tent at all three upvalley markets and said each market offers something unique.
The Edwards market caters to a lot of locals because of its fresh produce selection, while the Minturn Market has a lot of unique knickknacks such as Tibetan jewelry and homemade jams, Tamberino said.
And in Vail, there’s everything from art to live music to fresh produce to food vendors.
“Each of the markets, believe it or not, all three of them have their own special niche that makes them unique,” Tamberino said.
He said the markets definitely stimulate the local economies on the weekends, too. Tamberino sees the benefits first hand on Saturdays at his two restaurant locations.
“In both locations, it’s my best day of the week, for sure,” Tamberino said. “It definitely stimulates my economy in the restaurant.”
The Vail Farmers’ Market has surveyed visitors and estimates that the 10,000 customers per week spend about $40 in town for a total of $6 million spent in Vail over the summer, which is about $240,000 in sales tax revenues for the town of Vail.
Marketplace on Meadow Drive manager Mike McNichols said the Vail Farmers’ Market brings attention to the area, even for locals who know the area well.
The Marketplace, which opened is 2007, is still a somewhat new business, McNichols said.
“I think the layout of our building, or something, is sometimes overlooked as people are walking by,” he said. “It’s nice to get people to slowly stroll along Meadow Drive and have a look at the shops that are here.”
The new Solaris development, on the site of the former Crossroads Mall, has also revitalized the area and made it more of a town center than a side street, McNichols said.
“Traditionally, for the last 20 years or so, it’s been Bridge Street mostly,” he said. “So it’s nice to know that we’re going to be (a hot spot) for years to come.”
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or email@example.com.
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Are we seeing more bears because there are more bears on the valley floor, or because we’re all spending more time at home? It could be a bit of both.