Aspen Saturday Market is back

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The first fresh fruits and veggies of the season, along with an expanded array of handmade arts and crafts, will hit the streets of Aspen tomorrow as the Aspen Saturday Market begins its summer run.

As many as 70 vendors, including Western Slope growers and area residents selling handmade wares, are expected to participate in the weekly market. The popular cooking demonstrations will start a week later – at the June 21 market.

The market has expanded beyond its traditional block of Hopkins Avenue next to City Hall, rounding the corner onto a block of South Hunter Street. The move was made in order to accommodate more local vendors, offering everything from fleece hats and pottery to handmade jewelry and clothing.

In addition, there will be the usual assortment of growers and food vendors, who bring in everything from fresh flowers and produce to chutneys, pasta and frozen meats.

This year’s harvest is shaping up to be a good one, though the selection tomorrow will be limited, as it’s early in the season, reported Jack D’Orio, a Paonia vegetable grower.

“We won’t have a lot, because it’s so early, at least from the farmer’s standpoint,” he said.

But growing conditions are vastly improved from last year’s drought, and D’Orio said he’s expecting a bumper crop, compared to his harvest a year ago.

“Some of us were in dire straits last year,” he said. “You probably wouldn’t notice it, but yield was way down and we just didn’t get what we wanted. A lot of things didn’t germinate.”

Kris Kropp, a grower of organic fruits in Paonia, has already picked cherries to bring to Aspen.

“They’re beautiful this year. They got thinned out by a frost, so they’re big and beautiful,” he said. “This is early for cherries – two weeks early.

“We’ve got a big crop of everything this year.”

Also new to the market this year will be a stage in Conner Memorial Park, behind City Hall, where cooking demonstrations by local chefs will take place.

The demonstrations will be offered twice during the day this year – at 10 a.m. and again at noon. Organizers hope to offer other entertainment on the stage when the cooking is not in session – craft and dancing demonstrations, fashion shows and such.

Kicking off this year’s cooking demonstrations on June 21 will be some of Aspen’s culinarily talented firefighters, preparing some of their favorite recipes.

The market opens at 8 a.m., but will wrap up earlier in the afternoon this year; vendors may leave after 3:30 p.m., depending on how late-day business goes, D’Orio said. The market runs through October.

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