Aspen Times Weekly: Unearthing local treasures
The Aspen Saturday Market has been a crux of the weekend’s activities in town for 17 years now. Begun as a small agricultural market filling out just Conner Park, it has grown to include artisans of jewelry, hats, clothing and skin care products and expanded first to East Hyman Avenue, then South Hunter Street, and now all the way around the block to Hopkins Avenue.
“That’s as big as it’s going to get,” said Kathy Strickland, who manages the market for the city. Strickland, who’s also the staff liaison for the Commercial Core and Lodging Commission, said committees decide which agricultural stands and which artisan vendors get to participate every year.
They base their decisions on a few different factors — for instance, this year they decided not to accept as many jewelry makers because they felt there had become a surplus of those. For the food court, which now occupies Conner Park, the committee members try to choose vendors that offer dishes that can’t be found in the downtown core, so as to not compete with nearby restaurants.
But there is one baseline condition that all vendors must meet.
“Everything is Colorado made, grown and produced,” Strickland said.
More than just an opportunity to shop, the market is also a “community event,” Strickland noted — a part of the weekend routine for many locals, a chance to find a unique souvenir for visitors, a reunion with the community for second-home owners.
The final Aspen Saturday Market will be Oct. 11 this year. As we enter into the last few weeks of the market, we thought we’d share a small sampling of the 108 vendors — many alternate weeks — at the 17th annual Aspen Saturday Market.
A family orchard for four generations, Forté in Palisade is best known for their peaches, said employee Daniel Peci. Forté grows 18 varieties of the Colorado favorite so that they can offer them all summer long. In addition, the orchard also produces 10 varieties of apples, plums and Bartlett pears.
Peci is an intern for the orchard, which regularly hires European students like him for a summer work/travel program. He loves it so much, this is his fourth summer in Colorado, and he hopes to stay on.
Taylor & Tessier
Taylor Tessier has been making jewelry most of her life. But a few years ago, she and her now husband, Adam, partnered up to create a profitable business designing and selling luxury jewelry, first out of their apartment, and now from a studio in downtown Aspen.
“Our company’s grown a lot because of this place (the market),” said Adam Tessier. “We can test new designs on the trendsetters and jet-setters that visit this place and take that to the stores across the U.S. that we’re in.”
The Tessiers are always creating new designs, using luxurious, high-quality materials in all their pieces, while trying to keep to a more reasonable price range, he said.
Mountain Meadow Naturals
A part of the Aspen Saturday Market for as long as artisans have been allowed, Mountain Meadow Naturals offers herbal remedies; skin, face and body care; handmade soaps and aromatherapy products. Everything is handmade in Carbondale by owner Rebecca Hodgson, who even prints and cuts out the products’ labels at home. Her son designed the company’s logo.
Her products are made from organic materials whenever they’re available. She doesn’t take them to any other farmer’s markets, but they are available for order online.
True Nature Healing Arts
Based in Carbondale, True Nature is a healing center offering meditation, yoga, spa services and high-prana food, which they are serving at the market this summer. Chef David Starbear explained that the dishes are “living food,” meaning that they are minimally processed and often raw. The items he’s serving up at the market are a selection of his homemade desserts as well as cold-pressed and fermented beverages (see Food Matters, pages 16-17).
Ruth Phippeny knows her sweets.
“I started out with toffee, and that’s what I sell the most of,” said Phippeny, who makes her treats out of a shop in Nucla, near Telluride. “But not everyone likes toffee, so I make fudge and turtles too.”
Phippeny has been commuting to the Aspen Saturday Market for several years now. She said she has found quite a following here, although she also finds new customers every year. And she ships products year-round; many customers annually place a bulk order for Christmas gifts.
Re-Cycle Art Aspen
Billy Taylor’s bikes are as much a piece of art as they are a piece of athletic gear or mode of transportation.
As proprietor of Re-Cycle Art, a recycled bike business that transforms vintage bicycles into sleek, usable townies, Taylor’s home base is a shop at the Aspen Business Center. But he says “the real story” is at the Market, where you can see up to 80 finished bikes on any given Saturday.
“Our summer is bustling with sales to new people to Aspen each year,” he says.
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“We believe in the power of women, so we turned to what we know, winemaking, and tried to make our own small contribution to the discussion,” co-owner of Ponzi Vineyards Anna Maria said. “We had to do something.”