Farmers Market in Steamboat is smaller, safer and still wildly popular |

Farmers Market in Steamboat is smaller, safer and still wildly popular

Debbi Strong, right, buys a bouquet of flowers from Lisa Godbolt of Garden Goddess Creations at the Main Street Steamboat Springs Farmers Market on Saturday.
Derek Maiolo

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.

The popular Big Red’s Hot Sauce is back at the Main Street Steamboat Farmers Market this summer, and the ban on food tasting during the pandemic isn’t slowing them down. The Phoenix-based family business normally lets customers take a “flavor tour,” but this year, shoppers have to be content with reading about the flavors and heat levels.
Frances Hohl

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.

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Steamboat Springs baker Rebecca Dillon helps one of her customers at the Buttercup’s Bakery tent at the Main Street Steamboat Farmers Market. Dillon specializes in pies and is known for her jellies and outrageously delectable brownies and cookies.
Frances Hohl

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.

A woman, who preferred not to give her name, shops for necklaces at the Sabina Jewelry tent during the Main Street Steamboat Farmers Market on Saturday.
Derek Maiolo

“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.

If you go

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.

Kathy and Marc Bertrand make specialty crêpes at the Main Street Steamboat Farmers Market on Saturday for their business, The Crêperie.
Derek Maiolo

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

Customers shop for produce from Eat a Peach Farms at the Main Street Steamboat Farmers Market on Saturday. This summer’s weekly market comes with a few changes due to COVID-19, such as a mandate requiring face masks.

Derek Maiolo
Phil Gordon wears an eye-catching face covering at the Main Street Steamboat Farmers Market on Saturday while selling kombucha from his business, Breck Booch, based in Breckenridge.
Derek Maiolo

Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.

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