Farmers Market in Steamboat is smaller, safer and still wildly popular
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It’s a Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m., and 660 people have already been counted at the Main Street Steamboat Farmers Market. Unlike last year, dogs are absent, humans are wearing masks, and the flow of people is guided by one-way arrows along Yampa Street.
Local Jeff Lukens is at the Big Red’s Hot Sauce tent collecting his favorite flavor. He was able to take the Big Red’s flavor tour last year, but this year, free samples are banned because of the pandemic.
“The flavor tour was incredible,” Lukens.
Luckily for Big Red’s Hot Sauce, repeat customers like Lukens are stopping by their tent at the Farmers Market, and their reputation for hot sauce does the rest.
“So right now, we’re doing verbal flavor tours. It’s not hard when you have a great product,” said cook Braxton Smith, who works for the Phoenix-based company.
One vendor who says she’s doing better than even last year is Steamboat baker Rebecca Dillon of Buttercup’s Bakery.
“People are really supportive of locals” during this pandemic, Dillon said. “My pies and brown butter toffee chocolate chunk cookies are really popular with my repeat customers.”
Some visitors with dogs could be seen staring wistfully at the Farmers Market, but a new rule this year is keeping dogs out of the mix.
“It’s so hard to tell people not to bring their dogs because that’s always been a big part of the market, but we can’t resist petting your dogs,” said Lisa Popovich, executive director of Main Street Steamboat Springs, which organizes the Saturday market.
Jess Gantt-Shafer and husband, Jye, left their beagle at home, only to find their favorite salted pretzels from Styria Bakery were already sold out. They snagged the cinnamon pretzels instead.
“This is our first time to come out this summer, and we’ve been really pleased,” Jess said. “Everything flows in one direction; we can find what we need.”
Popovich said some longtime vendors have chosen to stay away during the time of a pandemic, but the numbers have made the market manageably safe.
What: Main Street Steamboat Farmers Market
When: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays through Sept. 19
Where: Yampa Street between Sixth and Eighth streets
Styria Bakery II owner Shannon Campbell said the crowds are smaller this year, and there are fewer visitors, but she said it’s still worth the effort for the Denver bakery.
“We have a lot of loyal customers, and there’s a lot of people anxious to support small businesses like mine,” Campbell said.
And as usual, the most crowded vendors at the Farmers Market are those selling fresh fruits and vegetables, many grown locally or in Colorado’s agricultural regions.
“When you purchase fruits and vegetables and meats from the farmers market, far less people have touched it,” Popovich said. “You can feel safe about it.”
The Main Street Steamboat Farmers Market is held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday through Sept. 19 on Yampa Street between Sixth and Eighth streets. A complete list of vendors can be found at mainstreetsteamboat.com.
Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. She can be reached through the editor.
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