This is the 22nd year for Park City’s Farmers Market and the market has come full circle –with the fresh produce and other local products for sale every Wednesday afternoon at the base of Park City Mountain Resort. KPCW’s Leslie Thatcher has more.
Baker Volker Ritzinger started the market back 1996 as a way to get his artisan bread made in Kamas to the masses. It’s grown into a market today that boasts of upwards of 80 vendors mid-summer. In 2001, as the resort began preparing for the Winter Olympics, the market was moved to the base of Canyons Resort. With more room to spread out and a more central location to the basin population, the market thrived. With construction now underway there at the base of the Canyons, the market searched for a new location and found itself back in the original location.
“People are finding us. People will always find the good produce, you know? It is a little bit confusing because we’ve been there (at Canyons ) for 18 years. It was convenient for people coming in from the junction, people coming from town when it was in the middle but…it is what it is and we have found another parking lot and we are here with Park City again.”
The hours every Wednesday are noon to 5 pm.
“We try to get people when they get a lunch break to come out there and give them a chance to come there for lunch. We also try to be open until 5 pm so when they get off work they can get there and get great produce.”
With a smaller space to work with, Volker says the vendors are a bit more compacted, but he’s proud that there are still a handful of vendors who have been there with him over the last two decades. While they have lost some large producers as the orchards they’re growing in are sold off for development, he says smaller, farmers are coming back.
“In the last 10 years we’ve seen a little downtrend of farmers…you know big farmers selling their property down in Utah County. You know everybody wants to cash in on the real estate money. But we’ve seen more and more little farmers, little organic farmers coming back which is excellent. We really like to deal with them. Unfortunately they have limited amount but they have really good, good stuff.”
This is one of the only markets in the state that doesn’t announce a closing date – Volker lets the famers dictate that – and they let him know when their crops have frozen. But it’s traditionally mid-October – so this year – he’s planning to go till October 17th.
Volker also responded to a letter to the editor that said Vail Resorts – the owner of the parking lot where the market is staged - had bounced a long time local vendor from the market – Spencers BBQ in favor of offering their own new BBQ truck.
When contacted by KPCW, Susan Spencer said they weren’t booted out of the market, but they were forced to sell tacos and salad, not their BBQ, which is what they’re known for. Spencer says that was specifically written into this year’s contract. She added that they are a mom and pop trying to make a living and the market is their connection to the community.
The Park City Farmers Market, she wrote in a statement to KPCW, is “about enjoying and supporting local businesses. Vail is not local, they are corporate America.” Volker said he would work it out.
“They really didn’t kick anybody out. They’re just trying to do their own thing and you know we have a space to set up. We just had to adjust the menu a little bit. And you know, I’ve been really happy with Vail and they’ve treated the Farmer’s Market well. And also my rules and regulations allow two of a kind. There’s no monopoly in this Farmer’s Market. It’s two of a kind. They’re all a little bit different. And we are going back and figuring it out and the Chefs are talking. Spencer will be back with his full menu sooner or later.”
As of Thursday afternoon, it had been worked out. Deirdra Walsh, the senior director of Mountain Dining for Park City Mountain told KPCW in an email, the Park City Farmers Market is absolutely about enjoying and supporting local businesses. "Our intent", she wrote, "has always been to work in partnership with Volker and his vendors, including Spencer’s, which will continue to serve BBQ and be a favorite at the market."
Walsh says she has spoken with both Volker and the Spencers to resolve any misunderstanding and they look forward to working together to provide a variety of delicious food options for people to enjoy at the market.
You can enjoy BBQ, bread, live music and lots more every Wednesday – except for the 4th of July - until mid-October.