Annual summer Mainstreet Farmers Market jumping over to 7th Street

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— This summer will mark the 10th anniversary of Mainstreet Steamboat’s annual Farmers Market, but for the first time in the past half-decade, it’s switching locations.

But rest assured, it will remain downtown, and will be just a block or so away from its former Sixth Street location.

When the annual 14-week Saturday festival kicks off June 14, it will be at its new strip along Seventh Street between Lincoln Avenue and Yampa Street.

It’s a move businesses along the small stretch of Seventh Street asked Mainstreet Steamboat for, Mainstreet Executive Director Tracy Barnett said.

“We looked at several different options, and it turns out the merchants on Seventh Street asked us and said they’d really like to have us there,” Barnett said. “To have merchants and restaurants who want us down there was kind of the guiding forces to why we decided to move down to Seventh.”

To accommodate the roughly 70 to 75 booths the event attracts each week, Barnett said Mainstreet Steamboat also may look into securing about a block of Yampa Street branching off where Seventh Street intersects. The parking lot adjacent to Carl’s Tavern at Seventh and Yampa will also be set aside for the market.

One option in the search process was Little Toots Park, Barnett said, because of its sprawling grassy area and multiple shade trees. But in order to accommodate everyone, the idea was scrapped in favor of the Seventh Street section.

“There are so many families that have little children to use that park,” Barnett said. “It’s meant for little kids. We try to think of the whole community with this sort of thing.”

Maintstreet Steamboat also is eyeing the park near 655 Yampa St. for the Farmers Market, one of the empty lots the recently formed 2A steering committee may have plans for in revamping the Yampa River Promenade, Barnett said.

But for now, the relatively shady area along Seventh Street will be the market’s new home.

“There’s a lot of shade down there, and product at the market that will either spoil or melt like candles or lip balm" won’t do so, Barnett said.

“A lot of people come and just listen to the music from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day,” Barnett added. “There has to be a place where people can do that, and there aren’t many options" around town.

Mainstreet also pushing to keep businesses open later

Since Mainstreet Steamboat was first introduced to the community a decade ago, Barnett has noticed the number of shops and small businesses downtown staying open past 5 p.m. slightly has increased.

Even so, Barnett has spent the summer and winter calling those business owners, collecting data and urging them to break the mold and keep their doors open later.

The early closing hours have created a trend, Barnett said, that causes Steamboat locals to think night shopping simply isn’t an option.

“I try to encourage them to stay open if they would,” Barnett said. “We’ve trained locals to not shop at night because the stores are mostly closed.”

An idea Mainstreet Steamboat has that hasn’t quite gained traction is having all, or most, of the downtown shops and businesses take one night each week and stay open later together, to help break the trend.

It’s an idea Barnett cooked up after seeing some promise during the First Friday Artwalks, during which fewer locations are closing up shop at their usual early hours.

The doors that do stay open later during summer and winter — the peak seasons — are the ones you’d expect: gift shops and well-known touristy hotspots, like F.M. Light & Sons.

The push is ongoing, but with the end of ski season less than a couple of months away and summer attractions in sight, Barnett isn’t giving up the call.

“We’ve tried so hard to get people to stay open later,” Barnett said. “We understand the concerns of not staying open later. Although it does take time to establish new habits, it also takes a long time to undo that habit and know that downtown would, in fact, be open.”

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

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