Downtown Market looking for new organizers
For a decade now, Glenwood’s Downtown Market has benefited the community by providing a venue for area farmers, artists and other vendors, offering weekly summertime entertainment, drawing business downtown and adding another element to Glenwood Springs’ many tourist attractions.
But the market needs some new blood to step up in order to help keep the popular community event going, organizers say.
Recently, several longtime members of the eight-person Downtown Market board stepped down, leaving only five active members to start planning for next summer.
That planning begins in mid-January and continues through the spring, as organizers are busy lining up producers, artists, hot food vendors and musicians, and doing the necessary fundraising to cover costs.
According to founding board members Cindy Svatos, Jan Harr and Sue Kuhn, if the weekly Tuesday evening market that runs from late June to September each year is to continue as it has, it’s time for others to get involved.
“There’s no doubt the market has been good for the community,” Harr said. “This is something we do for the community, but we need the community to make it work.”
In particular, she said the board is looking for new members with specific skills, such as grant writing and other fundraising know-how, as well as public relations and marketing, and people who can direct set-up and take-down each week.
The Downtown Market costs around $20,000 to $25,000 to put on each summer. But vendor fees only cover part of that, said board member Linda Drake.
“So, there is a lot of fundraising that has to happen,” she said.
The board’s newest member, Julie Larson, said she’s motivated to do her part to keep the market going.
“But it’s just not sustainable with four or five people doing all the work,” she said. “We love it to death, but we can’t kill ourselves for it.”
Outgoing board member Sherill Hawkins said her involvement with the Downtown Market has been rewarding, and the event is looked to as a model for other outdoor markets.
“Agritourism is huge now, plus visitors to Glenwood Springs love the event during the week for buying local produce and products, and learning about Glenwood Springs,” Hawkins said.
The pie and soup contests and cooking demonstrations involving local and regional chefs have also been popular, she noted.
“Many of the vendors have been able to make contacts and now sell at Whole Foods, helping start up ideas for continuing their businesses even if it’s not at the market,” Hawkins said.
The market also provides needed exposure for local nonprofit organizations and youth groups, she said.
In recent years, the market has also started accepting food stamps and senior food assistance, even offering double the value to help people buy fresh produce and improve their nutrition, Svatos noted.
Working with Glenwood Medical Associates’ obesity prevention efforts, the market also accepts “Farmacy” coupons that can be applied to fresh produce.
But doing so requires keeping up with a lot of paperwork to meet various state and federal regulations, thus adding to the workload, Svatos said.
Business sponsorships are also an important aspect in supporting the market. That requires legwork as well, she said.
Because the market season requires that volunteers help during business hours, Svatos suggested that local businesses consider sponsoring any interested employees to join the board or volunteer in other ways for the event.
Svatos said the board is committed to organizing the Downtown Market for the coming season. But it is also exploring new ideas to keep the event going in future years, she said.
That could include seeking to be underwritten in some way by the city of Glenwood Springs, possibly through the city’s Tourism Promotion Board or through funding to hire a paid market director, she and other board members suggested.
For more information or to volunteer for the Downtown Market board, contact Svatos at 970-618-3650.
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