Markets in Vail Valley becoming more festive
EAGLE COUNTY — As the weather warms and summer approaches, it’s just about time for market season. This year’s markets will look familiar, but, as in most years, there are some noticeable and subtle changes coming.
The biggest change is coming to Minturn, where a street improvement project will delay the start of that market until July 2.
Sage Pierson’s Sticky Fingers Cafe and Bakery is right across the street from the market site. Pierson said she’s still anticipating a “great summer,” but isn’t exactly sure what to expect from the delay.
Still, she said, the streetscape work had to be done, and there’s only so much time to do it.
And, Pierson added, the impact on her business this year won’t be as pronounced as it would have been a few years ago. But there will be an impact. Sticky Fingers may lose a couple of Saturdays worth of market visitors, as well as business from a coffee cart Pierson sends across the street as vendors are setting up.
“Minturn has changed over the past few years,” Pierson said, adding that those changes have been for the better.
EVOLUTION OF MARKETS
Despite the construction in front of the storefront, Sticky Fingers was fairly busy on a recent Thursday afternoon, with both locals and visitors coming in for sandwiches and such.
One of those locals came from across the street. Eric Cregon, of Magustos restaurant, came in for a sandwich and took a few minutes to talk about how the summer market business has evolved over the years.
Cregon used to run Mango’s restaurant in Red Cliff and was one of the first food vendors at the Vail Farmers’ Market. He’s spent a lot of time at various markets over more than a decade.
“The markets got diluted,” Cregon said, saying that more communities hosting markets essentially weakened the vendor base.
NO AVON, EAGLE MARKETS
There’s been a bit of a shake-out in the market business, through. For example, after several years of trying to find a foothold on the market calendar, the town of Eagle will focus on other events.
“We had a really dedicated group of volunteers,” town marketing coordinator Amy Cassidy said. “We tried different venues and days, but it’s harder now that there are so many markets over the state — it’s really hard to break into that schedule.”
Avon won’t have a market this year, either, according to town events coordinator Danita Dempsey.
BREAKING IN TO NEW MARKETS
Besides the difficulty of establishing markets, it can also be tricky for vendors to break into certain communities, particularly where the markets are well established.
In a phone message, Vail Farmers’ Market coordinator Angela Mueller said applications for the next season open in August and are full by November.
There are a few changes to the 135-tent market this year, including new farms and a requirement that every vendor offer Colorado-made products.
The challenge for some vendors can be standing out in the crowd of booths.
Stephen Porter, owner of Nickie’s Quicky, started the business at the Vail market in 2004. In the years he’s been at that and other markets, Porter said he’s seen an evolution from rows of tents and shelters.
“Markets have become more destinations now,” Porter said. “They usually have more of a festival vibe to them.”
Porter added that the most vibrant of the markets are the ones that have had sustained success — particularly Vail and Minturn. And, he said, those markets depend on vendors looking at different products or presentations.
“It’s fun to see businesses come and go,” Porter said. “There’s always people out there that are reinventing things. … People are becoming more clever at marketing.”
Liz Rackoff, owner of Batter Cupcakes, is a market regular. In an email, she wrote that her market customers are a mix of familiar and new faces. To keep things fresh, Rackoff wrote that she brings specialty and seasonal flavors to the markets she attends.
The vibrancy isn’t limited to markets, though.
Nickie’s Quicky for years has set up a tent at Eagle’s ShowDownTown concert series. He’s one of several vendors who set up for those Thursday-evening events.
“That’s not technically a market, but it’s still a weekly gathering,” Porter said. “They’re all a lot of fun.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.
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