Aspen Saturday Farmers Market set for this weekend
In the 22 years that the Aspen Saturday Farmers Market has existed, this summer will show a new side of the outdoor food fair due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Market manager Kathy Strickland, who has been organizing the gathering since its inception, has been working closely with her colleagues at the city to get ready for a safe opening on Saturday.
She said that preparing for all of the safeguards to ensure the safety of attendees has been more of an energy suck than even getting the first market up and running.
“I would say it is more stressful because of COVID and making sure the regulations are in place,” Strickland said Thursday.
That means limiting the number of people in the two-block market to 50 on each street, having one-way foot traffic flow, one entrance and one exit and keeping vendors 8 feet apart, among many other rules.
The market, which begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m., will be held on Hopkins and Hyman avenues off Galena Street.
Instead of 100 vendors who usually include artisans, there will be 35 this year and are limited to agricultural and fresh food providers.
Strickland said she’s excited to bring on four new vendors, which will offer some items that have been requested in recent years like kimchi, heirloom grains and gluten-free baked goods.
“I think it’s a really good mix,” she said. “Now I’m getting excited.”
She spent Thursday checking electricity plug-ins, signs and other supplies required for a COVID-19 farmers market.
Ropes will be lined down the middle of the street to separate foot traffic and “ambassadors” will be on hand to keep the 50-person limit and monitor the entry and exit.
Those ambassadors and other measures to stay within COVID-19 public health orders and maintaining distancing during the market will add an additional cost of $25,000, according to Mitch Osur, the city’s director of downtown services and parking.
For this weekend, it will be Osur and some other city staffers who are serving as ambassadors.
“We’ve got the A-team working this Saturday,” Osur said.
Strickland said she’s getting a lot of calls from people who want to preorder from various vendors and get their food delivered to either their homes or a designated spot behind City Hall.
She and other city staff met with farmers earlier this week, and have been talking with new vendors to help them navigate through a COVID-19 farmers market.
“I’m here to help people succeed,” Strickland said.
All patrons are asked to social distance, wear a mask at all times and leave pets at home.
Vendors will accept cash and credit card.
The market will run until at least Sept. 5. It could go longer, but that will be based on the success of the market this summer, whether farmers have enough produce and if the city can fund extra expenditures, according to Osur.
The city will reassess expanding the market if Pitkin County public health orders are amended over the summer.
The Basalt Sunday Market returns to downtown Basalt this Sunday. The market hours are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
And unlike Aspen, there will be artisans, live music and lawn games, in addition to produce and prepared foods.
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This summer in Aspen is likely to include indoor and outdoor concerts, maskless gatherings and no state or county-mandated restrictions on social distancing at restaurants or anywhere else.