Summer farmers markets begin June 17 in Minturn, June 18 in Vail |

Summer farmers markets begin June 17 in Minturn, June 18 in Vail

Chef Chris Benson explains to patrons the appetizer portion at a 2016 Farm to Table Dinner on Friday, July 22, in Vail. There are four dinners per season at the Vail Farmers' Market & Art show, and all are very popular.
Chris Dillmann | |

To market, to market

Here’s a look at the weekend markets in the Vail Valley

• Edwards: Saturdays through September at Edwards Corner.

• Minturn: Saturdays through September in downtown Minturn.

• Vail: Sunday’s through Oct. 1 along East Meadow Drive.

EAGLE COUNTY — With summer upon us, one of the valley’s warm-weather traditions is set to begin. The Edwards Corner Market launched last weekend, and the Minturn Market and Vail Farmers’ Market both begin this weekend, with scores of vendors offering everything from fresh produce to fine art.

The original market in the valley came to Minturn in 1998. Minturn special events coordinator Michelle Metteer said the first market of this season will have about 45 vendors, with the full complement of 90 vendors coming in July.

Metteer said exciting additions this year include Caribbean Fusion, a local company that sells Jamaican jerk-style chicken and pork.

That’s the kind of business the Minturn market likes to attract, Metteer said.

“We like to give small businesses a chance to get a lot of foot traffic,” she said. “We like to celebrate entrepreneurship in the valley.”

Sometimes, businesses at the market are successful enough they move into storefronts. That’s good for them, if not great for the market, Metteer said.

Minturn draws vendors from around the region, too. One of this year’s newcomers is the Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy from Buena Vista.

Danielle Gee, the office administrator at Jumpin’ Good, said that firm likes to get out to a market in the region every year. The company has been at markets in Vail and Crested Butte, among other places.

Coming to markets can create a bit more income for the dairy, Gee said. But it’s also a good way to let people know about food and how it comes to the table. Seeing the dairy’s products might also encourage some people to take the relatively short trek to Chaffee County.

Little double-dipping

A few vendors set up at both Vail and Minturn. Rocky Mountain Tacos — which runs the “most best tacos” truck parked between Vail Brewing Co. and Native Roots in Eagle-Vail — will have its new taco trailer at Minturn and will sell salsa at the market in Vail.

But Vail market director Angela Mueller said there isn’t much overlap in vendors between Vail and Minturn. Mueller said much of the focus in Vail is on fresh produce. Even this time of year, farmers will bring in peas, cherries, cucumbers, kale, fresh garlic and more. Produce and meat are also the basis for the four farm-to-table dinners the Vail market holds throughout the season.

In addition to produce and food, the Vail market also features plenty of artisan items. Mueller said Cole & Danier, a new vendor this year, is bringing “unbelievably beautiful” handmade blankets.

Those blankets, like virtually all the rest of the art and artisan items, are made in Colorado.

All those items are thoroughly evaluated before vendors are able to rent booth space. Competition for booth space is keen. This year, there were more than 2,500 applications for roughly 135 spaces. Mueller said vendors are evaluated for quality. They also can’t compete directly with businesses along Meadow Drive. That’s why Rocky Mountain Tacos is selling salsa, not its full menu.

Food, art, education

While there’s plenty of competition for booth space in Vail, some vendors are virtually guaranteed space.

The Eagle River Water & Sanitation District always has a booth at the market, refilling water bottles and providing cups to those who left their bottles elsewhere.

District communications and public affairs manager Diane Johnson said giving out water is useful for a number of reasons.

First, it’s kind of a public service.

“We’re kind of an aid station for a lot of people,” Johnson said.

With water on hand, there’s also an opportunity to tell the public about what the district does — providing cool, clear water straight from the tap. That’s important for visitors, especially those from other countries, who sometimes wonder about the quality of the local water.

Johnson said the Sunday water station is also a chance for some of the district’s employees to meet the public. People who work in the treatment plants spend most of their working hours in a building. The markets are a chance for those people to meet people who drink the water they produce.

There’s plenty to do at the markets besides shop and eat. Markets in Vail, Minturn and Edwards all feature music at least some of the time at those events.

Vail has a pair of music venues, the plaza at Solaris and a plaza at A Secret Garden, a store near Campo di Fiori restaurant.

The local markets tend to draw different audiences. Vail draws thousands of people every week, from town residents to weekend visitors to people staying in town for a while.

Minturn draws visitors, too, as well as locals.

Dan Bryant, of Remonov & Co., which hosts the Saturday market at Edwards Corner, said that market usually draws from the surrounding community.

The Edwards market, which started June 9, has only about 25 vendors, most of whom sell food and produce.

“We do draw some tourists, but they tend to stay upvalley,” Bryant said.

What all the markets have in common is a fun day on (usually) sunny weekend days, and all the of organizers made about the same comment: “Come on out; we’d love to see you.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, and @scottnmiller.

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