Farmers Market in Steamboat Springs looks to grow
Mainstreet thinking about expanding, moving annual summer event
January 30, 2012
Steamboat Springs — It's just two weeks into the application period for the 2012 Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Farmers Market, and 57 vendors already have submitted applications for 67 booths.
Based on the interest this year and last (when there were 120 applications), Mainstreet Steamboat Manager Tracy Barnett is considering expanding the Farmers Market beginning this June. But doing so might require a new location, as the existing spot on Sixth Street between Lincoln Avenue and Oak Street already is at capacity.
There are pluses and minuses to expanding the popular summer event, Barnett said.
Adding more booths would help Mainstreet generate additional revenue. Barnett said the 2011 Farmers Market made about $25,000 for the nonprofit Mainstreet, whose mission is to promote and improve the downtown shopping and dining district. That $25,000 represents almost 20 percent of Mainstreet's 2012 operating budget of $140,000. The city of Steamboat Springs and other fundraisers provide the bulk of Mainstreet's funding.
"It's our biggest fundraiser," Barnett said about the Farmers Market. "With our money being cut back from the city, I need help. We need to be able to fund the organization."
On the other hand, keeping the Farmers Market at its current size would limit any potential negative impacts to downtown businesses. It also would prevent the logistical hurdles associated with operating the event, including how to identify a bigger space to accommodate more vendor booths.
Barnett said she is investigating whether the Farmers Market could spill into one lane of Oak Street for up to a block east and west, or if booths could be added to the lawn in front of the historic Routt County Courthouse. She said moving the Farmers Market to Eighth or 10th streets between Lincoln Avenue and Oak Street also are possibilities, as is Yampa Street and Seventh Street. So are locations that aren't in the downtown core.
The Stock Bridge Transit Center parking lot has been identified as a potential home, but it would be far less desirable for downtown business owners who like the additional foot traffic the Farmers Market creates along Lincoln Avenue.
"I would love to keep it at Sixth (Street) because it's good for our business," said Jan Lomas, owner of Artisans Market of Steamboat. "We get a lot of foot traffic and we staff accordingly."
Lomas said the Artisans Market opens an hour earlier on Farmers Market Saturdays and staffs additional employees.
Barnett said a decision about whether to move the Farmers Market doesn't have to be made until June 1. The market runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays between June 9 and Sept. 8.
She said a decision to increase the number of vendors could take place sooner. All food vendors are being approved as their applications come in, but she's waiting until mid-February to review applications for craft vendors. Barnett said she and three other people will review the craft vendor applications, most of which are for jewelers.
"I need to figure out what to do with the categories that have or want to have a lot of vendors in them," she said. "I don't have any problem with duplicate booths, but when it comes to things that compete with our downtown merchants, I can't have too many of any kind in particular in the nonfood category."
To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com