Farmers Market in Steamboat prepares to open June 6
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After two months of isolation, many of us are in the market for familiar traditions, new ways to spice up our home cooking and a sense of community, and the Main Street Steamboat Springs Farmers Market is stepping up to serve. The Saturday morning market is set to open for the summer on June 6.
To adhere to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Colorado Farmers Market Association and the Routt County Board of Health, the market will look and feel different than it has in past years.
“We don’t want it to feel like an event,” said Main Street Steamboat Springs Executive Director Lisa Popovich. “We want it to feel like a grocery experience.”
The market will open for its first two Saturdays with 60 vendors selling grocery items: fresh produce, meats, baked goods, eggs, cheeses, condiments, snacks and starter plants, many of which, Popovich pointed out, will have arrived at the farmers market via a very short supply chain, passing through one to two pairs of hands, compared with more in the supply chains to grocery stores.
In third week of the market, vendors of prepared foods in to-go containers and wellness items are set to join the lineup.
“This is all kind of predicated on the idea that we as a community can handle standing 6 feet apart,” Popovich said. “If we behave, we can have more things.”
Patrons and vendors should stay home if they are sick or experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, and people are required to wear masks at the market. The grounds will be marked for one-way traffic, and bikes and dogs will not be allowed in.
There will be no live music, food sampling, picnicking or seating within the market grounds, but extra hand washing and sanitizing stations will be available. Patrons who bring their own bags will pack their own items, rather than the vendor, and are asked to use contactless forms of payment whenever possible.
To allow flexibility around summer construction and sufficient space for social distancing, the permit for the market has been expanded. Vendors will be spread out, and the market will allow around 250 people into the market at a time, compared with past years’ 600 or so people cycling through hourly.
“We have to follow the rules, so that we can get the market we love back,” Popovich said.
She noted that Denver farmers markets that have already opened have been looking good. The markets have been busy, and people have been following guidelines successfully.
What: Main Street Steamboat Springs Farmers Market
When: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays starting June 6
Where: Seventh and Yampa streets, between Fifth and Eighth streets
“There will still be the feeling of community there,” Popovich said. “You’ll get to say ‘hi’ and get your groceries — you just won’t stay and hang out.”
Popovich has seen a range of responses from market vendors. Many, she reports, are excited and ready to get back to the market. Others, especially one-person businesses, have decided that the risks of participating at an in-person market this year outweigh the rewards and are taking the summer off. But every vendor — whether they’ll be selling at the in-person market in 2020 or not — will be open for online business and delivery through the Main Street Steamboat farmers market directory.
And while free samples will not be allowed, adventurous shopping and eating are still in the spirit of the market.
“Take a chance (and buy a new item),” Popovich recommended.
One element of this summer’s market that will be relevant to more market-goers this summer is the Double Up Food Bucks program. Through this program, people eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, can spend $10 on any SNAP-eligible item at the market and receive an extra $10 match to spend on the market’s fresh produce.
“With so many people qualifying for SNAP right now, I encourage this,” Popovich said. “It’s a nice way to give your family fresh, local food and support your local producers, and feel good about what you’re getting.”
To see the full list of market vendors, to order from vendors online and for the full list of safety requirements and guidelines, visit mainstreetsteamboat.com/farmers-market.
Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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