Rain can’t dampen market’s spirit | PostIndependent.com

Rain can’t dampen market’s spirit

Post Independent/Kelley Cox

It’s not often that Colorado farmers complain about getting too much rain.

But that is one of the few discouraging words being heard in connection with Glenwood Springs’ new Downtown Market on Tuesday evenings.

Perhaps the biggest challenge to getting the event off the ground this year has been outside organizers’ control. Rain has been a frequent visitor to the weekly market at Centennial Park and Ninth Street.

Weather aside, the endeavor is being welcomed by vendors, market-goers and downtown business people.

“I do see a lot of different people than I do on Saturdays,” said Ken Kuhns, owner of Peach Valley CSA Farm, who also participates at the Saturday farmers’ market at True Value Hardware in Glenwood Springs.

Kuhns has been happy to see a lot of tourists at the Tuesday event. For other market participants, it’s also a chance to visit with other locals.

“Everybody meets and greets, catches up. It’s fun,” said Stephen Bershenyi of Glenwood Springs, who was taking a break from his blacksmithing booth to shop at a produce stand.

A major goal for the market is bringing more people to downtown Glenwood Springs, particularly as downtown faces the looming threat from the coming opening of the Glenwood Meadows commercial development later this year. The approach appears to be having some success. Sarah Bernstein and Tigran Valdez, of Carbondale, relaxed on a bench in Centennial Park during Tuesday’s market and said they think it is a good idea.

“I saw these flowers when I was walking by. They drew me in,” Bernstein said as she clutched a sunflower-speckled arrangement she found at a booth.

Valdez chewed on some jerky after being snared by a free sample from the stand of Harry “Buster” Bates, of Silt.

“It’s great. It’s hot,” he said of the spicy treat.

Downtown business owners appear to be enjoying increased traffic the market brings.

“It’s drawing attention,” said Yillin Huang, an employee of the May Palace Chinese restaurant just down Grand Avenue from the market.

“I think it’s good. It helps business around downtown because people walk by.”

“I think we get more traffic. I think we see more browsers,” agreed Terry Dowling, who does eBay sales from a computer out of the back of the Finders Keepers store, also on Grand. “It brings traffic to the downtown. We love it.”

Other stores are staying open longer on Tuesday nights or putting on sales to coincide with the market, and some stands and displays are appearing on the sidewalk along Grand.

Rather than worrying about the market, Jason Higens, owner of the 8th Street Deli, joined in, setting up a booth there.

“It’s a win-win for me,” he said of the market.

“It’s also another way to show off downtown to visitors. It gives them another chance to go and see what downtown has to offer,” he said, as bacon-wrapped prawns sizzled on one of his griddles, tempting passersby.

Rona Chorman, an organizer of the market, said some area businesses that feared they would suffer from competition from market vendors are actually benefiting, because more people are coming downtown.

Vendors and organizers alike would like to see even more attendance at the market ” something good weather could help. The market was fairly busy Tuesday ” at least during the first few hours before rain arrived.

Kuhns said the frequent rains “may be an issue down the road.”

“If the farmers are expected to show up when it’s raining and lousy then should the community be expected to show up?” he asked.

Cindy Svatos, another market organizer, joked that the rains shifted from Wednesday evenings to Tuesday evenings as soon as the Summer of Jazz series, a Wednesday night tradition in Glenwood Springs and also a frequent victim of summer soakers, ended for the season.

She and other organizers are undeterred by the weather and have decided to bring the market back next year, thanks in part to vendor support.

“When we get discouraged they keep encouraging us,” she said.

Bershenyi said he’ll have to look at how he did this year before deciding whether to return next year. But he thinks the market will do even better then.

Organizers hope to attract more vendors ” something market visitors Valdez and Bernstein agreed would help. Svatos said she’d also like to see more food vendors, but of different varieties such as wineries, rather than more fruit and vegetable stands.

As Kuhns weighed produce and other orders for customers, he wondered whether Glenwood Springs eventually may be ready for a more permanent farmers market, in a facility that would be out of the weather and also could be used for other purposes.

“There’s a lot of towns that are doing that,” he said.

For now, organizers of the Tuesday market are focused on getting through the rest of this year and then preparing for 2006. This year’s market continues through Oct. 11. Hours are from 4-8p.m.

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