Farmers market could be organized

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The opportunity to buy homegrown foods, handmade arts and other handcrafted products in downtown Steamboat Springs could be a few meetings away if residents show interest in restarting a farmers market.

An informal meeting will be held Thursday for residents and potential vendors to start discussing such a farmers market.

"It's really an introductory meeting talking about how it would work, where it would be," said Routt County Agricultural Extension Agent C.J. Mucklow. Hopefully, a core group of people will surface at the meeting and will begin to organize such a market for this summer, he said.

Having a true farmers market in Steamboat is difficult because of the short window in which crops are available, Mucklow said.

That's why this market would not only be a place to sell fruit and vegetables and other foods, but also could open the doors to artisans and others with a handcrafted products across Northwest Colorado, said Tracy Barnett, manager of Main Street Steamboat Springs. Barnett recently went to a farmers market where vendors were selling such items as fresh bread, homemade goat cheese, dried flower arrangements and log beds.

The idea to restart a Steamboat farmers market surfaced in early February when several people who create things on their kitchen tables, such as handmade soap, said they would like to have a venue to sell their creations, Barnett said.

There are dozens of handcrafted items produced across Northwest Colorado, many of which residents and visitors would be interested in buying.

"There are a lot of people who have no venue to distribute their products," Barnett said. Some home artisans don't have store frontage or funds for advertising, so it's difficult for people to find out what they're selling or where to buy it.

"This would just bring the product to the customer more easily," Barnett said.

A farmers market also would attract more people to the downtown area, she said.

"One of the missions of Main Street is to put feet on the street and make downtown a gathering place," she said.

For a few years in the late 1980s, a farmers market was held in Steamboat Springs on the lawn of the Routt County Courthouse, but it ultimately failed because there were not enough vendors, Mucklow and Barnett said.

More recently, a farmers market was hosted by Yampa Blue, a downtown coffee and gift shop.

The market tentatively could be open every week from June through Labor Day, Barnett said, maybe on Saturday mornings or Thursday evenings. Discussions have focused on having the market on Eighth Street between Lincoln Avenue and Oak Street, or on Yampa Street near the river.

An informal meeting to discuss restarting a weekly farmers and artisans market in downtown Steamboat will be at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the Extension kitchen of the Routt County Courthouse Annex.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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