Farmers market eases rules for vendors

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Main Street Steamboat Springs has decided to make it easier for farmers to get to market this summer.

Main Street manager Tracy Barnett said she has relaxed the rules for vendors in hopes of attracting more of them to the organization's fledgling farmers market. The nine-week series of outdoor sales kicks off June 18 in the parking lot of the Routt County Courthouse adjacent to Eighth Street. The market will run every other week, on the first and third Saturdays of the month. June 18 also is the day when a portion of Lincoln Avenue will be closed for the annual Mustang Roundup car event.

"The rules had been pretty stringent," Barnett said. "I've been advertising like crazy, and I've sent out 30 applications. And although I've talked to 20 interested people, I've only received two (applications) back. People don't want to commit."

Relaxed participation rules should remove some of that hesitancy, Barnett predicted. She estimated that the market needs about 20 vendors to achieve critical mass and become a legitimate attraction.

Ideally, the farmers market will feature regional agricultural producers and people who sell indigenous crafts. Food and beverage sellers will be considered. A panel reviews prospective vendors to make certain they fit the concept of the market.

Jonathon Hieb of Sweet Pea Produce has agreed to serve as market manager and will conduct sales there, Barnett said. She said she has received strong interest from a producer of organic beef, an elk rancher, a bakery and a flower grower. She also hopes organic eggs will be available.

Original guidelines for vendors called for 18 straight weeks of farmers markets, with each vendor required to attend at least a dozen of them. An annual fee of $75 was required, with a weekly booth fee of $25.

Now, those requirements have been relaxed. Vendors will be allowed to take part in as many or as few of the markets as they wish, with no annual fee. However, the booth fee has been increased to $35 a week. That's needed to meet the cost of promotional efforts and necessary services such as portable toilets, Barnett said.

The starting time for the Saturday market has been moved to 8 a.m., and the market will remain open until noon.

Main Street's goal is to attract more pedestrians to the downtown shopping district.

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