Minturn Market signs off for the season |

Minturn Market signs off for the season

Connie Steiert

The kids are back in school and the hot days of summerare dwindling fast, but it’s not too late to take part in one last heaping helping of summer’s best treats, the Minturn Market.Countless locals, and some guests, have discovered that the Minturn Market is one of the valley’s most colorful and fun ways to shop for fresh food goods and unique crafts and a delightful way to mingle with friends and neighbors.Beginning the third week of June, Minturn has been filled each weekend with fresh produce, fresh fruits and jellies, heavenly flowers and irresistible gifts. But this Saturday, Sept. 14, is the season’s swansong for the popular event.Every Saturday, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., the streets teem with shoppers looking for exotic home furnishings from the Scarab, regionally-grown fresh hot chili peppers, adorable Happy Cat Hats from Crested Butte and lovely jewelry from Heirloom Jewelry, which cannot be purchased in a store in Vail. There are even wonderful little jewelry boxes from Jacqueline Enterprises to keep that stunning new necklace or pair of earrings company, and be sure not to miss Wendy Lew’s fanciful Totally Stoned products, including glasses and a computer mouse covered in stunning stonework.&quotIt’s really become a big community event,&quot says Liz Campbell, who coordinates the Minturn Market. &quotIt’s become a big social event,&quot as well as the place to find the coolest gifts and sundries and the freshest food products.In the past three years the market has operated out of Minturn, it has ended later in September. But last year early fall snows put a damper on the last weekend, forcing the market organizers to rethink its dates. &quotThis year we started earlier and end earlier,&quot explains Campbell.Even if you’ve checked out the Minturn Market earlier this summer, last month or even last weekend, be sure and catch it again this weekend. Every week the vendors and their innovative offerings change.Campbell is careful to make sure the market includes a variety of products from a variety of vendors in any given week, not only to give the consumer exciting and unique choices, but to limit the amount of competition for vendors. And there are a number of transient vendors, who come and go throughout the summer, only offering their products for one or two weekends.&quotBy offering a mix, everybody does well,&quot says Campbell.Even with the produce, Campbell ensures there is an ever varying selection of fresh, seasonable foods available from vendors on the Eastern Slope as well as the Western Slope, and a grower in Grand County offers produce grown at 9,000 feet.&quotWe added a lot of gourmet food products this year,&quot says Campbell. There is Kokopeli, whose salsas and dry mixes have won awards for their great taste, and Aspen Leaf Gourmet products, which offers a selection of tasty sauces for marinating foods. My Mom’s Kolachi pastry is to die for, and the Quiche Factory offers the most delectable variety of quiches. There is also a fine representation of cheeses: one vendor offers the freshest goat cheese around, while another, Bingham Blue Cheese, recently won a blue ribbon in Wisconsin for the world’s best blue cheeses.Campbell has fine-tuned many things about the MinturnMarket during the four years it has been in operation. For one thing, the traffic woes that began as the market grew more popular have been eliminated. The town worked with Eco Transit to provide transportation from the Forest Service station at Dowd Junction.&quotIt has helped tremendously. There are no more traffic jams,&quot Campbell says. &quotEven if you don’t want to jump on a bus, you can drive into Minturn without getting stuck in traffic.&quot And, with 2,400 riders on the new route during the peak weekend, it has proved one of the biggest events for Eco Transit, too.In fact, the Minturn Market has become a win-win situation for everybody, including the vendors.&quotThe thing that is really neat about the market is that it gives people a venue to own their own businesses,&quot Campbell explains. Each vendor must register as a Colorado business to participate in the market and pay sales taxes. And several weekend showings have spawned a whole new career. Wendy Lew now has a Denver-based company that wants to carry her products. &quotA lot of these little mom and pa shops really have taken off.&quotIn the past four years the Minturn Market has grown from just 12 vendors the first year to 75 to 80 vendors, depending on the weekend. Every day Campbell is inundated with phone calls from more vendors asking to participate in the market. She gets calls from all over; there is even an ironworks vendor from Arkansas showing his wares in Minturn this summer. But many callers are turned away; you can only have so many apple vendors.&quotWe’re really laid back and easy to work with and people do well here. People walk away making money and with a happy experience. The word gets out,&quot Campbell says.Originally, Campbell served as a volunteer on the Minturn Market committee, born of the vision of Ty Gillispie. But Campbell saw how the workload dramatically increased as the market’s popularity grew. After three years of volunteering an inordinate amount of time and juggling it between her regular job as the education coordinator for the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival she talked the Town of Minturn into hiring her as the market’s coordinator on a paid basis. The town knows a good thing when it sees it, and readily recognizes the benefits the Minturn Market has given the small town.&quotIt’s really helped us as a town,&quot says Campbell.&quotWe’re sandwiched between two wealthy resorts. It’s hard to get people to come to see what Minturn has to offer.&quot That is why Campbell and the Town of Minturn are increasingly reaching out to visitors. New, colorful brochures have been distributed around the valley, and representatives are talking to hotel concierges to get the word out as well. &quotMinturn has a unique experience to offer; it’s the more historical part of the valley. People who come to Minturn end up falling in love with it.&quotOnce the Minturn Market closes for the summer, however, don’t despair. For three weekends this winter Dec. 7, 14 and 21 the market will reopen with some special holiday offerings. From 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Dec. 7 and 14 you can shop for holiday gifts or stock the kitchen with fresh food products for guests.In conjunction with the annual Million Lights in Minturn on Dec. 21, the town will be filled with horse-drawn carriages, crackling fires, hot toddies, piatas, the Dickens Carolers and &quotthe real&quot Santa Claus.And, be sure and catch the town’s Live in Minturn music series, which kicks off Sunday, Sept. 15, with a hot blues band the day after the market closes.

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