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Andrew Kole: Guest opinion

Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

As a member of the Commercial Core and Lodging Commission, the body responsible for the Aspen Saturday Market, I will address specific statements in Andy Stone’s column slamming the market (“Just keep looking – there must be a farmer in here somewhere,” Feb. 13, The Aspen Times).

Stone says the “Aspen’s farmers’ market – which has been in the news this week – has some serious problems.”

Nonsense. There are no serious problems. Actually, there aren’t really any problems. Overall the market is a well-oiled machine that works better than most things in Aspen.

Stone says, “The problems with Aspen’s market are highlighted by the fact that it is no longer called the Aspen farmers’ market (regardless of apostrophes); it is now the Aspen Saturday Market – an intentionally vague term, which reflects what I (cranky old fart that I am) consider the disastrous degeneration of a once damn fine affair.”

The name was changed years ago, so I must have missed Andy’s problem with the name change then. The fact that he thinks we spent time to “intentionally” come up with a “vague term” is insane.

Stone says, “The name change was necessitated when the market became flooded with vendors who were clearly not farmers by any stretch of the imagination.”

More nonsense. The commission wanted to provide something our summer visitors could enjoy for more than the 15 minutes it takes to buy fruits and vegetables. The growth of the market from 12 farmers to more than 100 vendors has been well thought out and well managed.

Stone says, “I was dismayed as the actual farm-grown produce disappeared in a sea of tchotchkes, trinkets, baubles, bangles, assorted junk and – yes, yes! – of course, some genuine art and artisanal products of great intrinsic and artistic value.”

While some might consider your column an artistic endeavor, others might consider it junk – with great intrinsic value.

Stone says, “Personally, I almost always need fresh produce. I almost never need a new hand-beaded, salvaged-scrap-metal jockstrap. Trust me on this one.”

Would that be because you have no balls? Sorry – venting.

Stone says, “I suppose my nasty, cranky objections could be solved easily enough (says me) by some simple segregation. Keep a block or two for the real farmers – and then have a separate area for arts and crafts.”

Segregation is always a winning idea. If Andy’s having trouble finding the real farmers, I will get him a guide dog from the shelter, which happens to be there every week finding homes for abandoned dogs.

Stone says, “But, according to the recent newspaper stories, the problems go deeper than that. There seems to be some dispute over who should or should not get one of the valued spaces in the market.”

I am shocked! Shocked! I can’t believe a story was printed that was not quite accurate. Yes, a few individuals are unhappy. But the 50,000-plus who attend the market are very happy.

Stone says, “And while I’m being unfair, let me note that various real estate firms have had booths at the market. And, yes, I believe they dedicate most of their booths to local nonprofit organizations, which is praiseworthy.”

We have a rule allowing businesses located on the market streets to come out in front of their location. We feel it is fair. Historically, all real estate companies have used their space to promote nonprofits. Maybe Andy should use his column space to do the same sometime.

Stone says, “New applicants aren’t allowed to attend the hearings where their applications are accepted or (most often) rejected.”

We have a limited amount of space for artisans, which, according to Andy, is too large already. We do our best. Any rejected applicant may come to one of our meetings and make their case.

Stone says, “So, somehow (gosh!), the Emmadale Farm on Emma Road in Basalt just couldn’t make the cut despite the fact that it, according to its slogan, is ‘Producing Locally and Organically for the Roaring Fork Valley.'”

Could the real reason Stone wrote his column be a friend of his was denied access a year ago? Funny thing is, if she would have applied this year (she didn’t), she might have gotten in because there was an opening after Zephyros Farms pulled out.

Stone says, “Hey, let’s end with an agricultural metaphor: As Chairman Mao said, ‘Let a thousand flowers bloom.’ Plus, of course, an equal – or greater – number of tchotchkes.”

Andy and Mayor Mick Ireland seem to love their Mao.

Stone finally says, “Come on, people. This is getting ridiculous.”

I finally agree with Andy: His column was ridiculous.


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