Farmers make hay at market
Everything seemed to move in blissful slow motion Thursday night as strollers soaked up the summer’s last rays and got their hands on a bounty of fruits and veggies that overflowed at Grand Junction’s final farmers market of the year.
Most restaurants seemed busy as diners people-watched on outdoor patios. Music lovers thumbed through boxes of albums at Triple Play Records while others sauntered around savoring ice cream cones. Live music dueled from opposite sides of Main Street.
Several vendors reported success selling their products at the Thursday night markets that started in mid-June, and most said they would secure a spot at next year’s event.
Olathe goat farmers Barbara Hulet and her daughters, Camri and Dani, capped a first year selling their Savanna goat meat at the market this year and were happy to report having return customers.
“We had a man come back that served the goat meat for dinner, and he said his guests thought it was so good,” Barbara Hulet said.
“Absolutely we’ll be back,” she said about returning next year.
Hulet said she was encouraged by another vendor, La Mesa Quail of Rangely, which sells quail eggs. Hulet and several others reported the vendor sells out of the specialty eggs at each farmers market.
“They said their first year was like ours, so we’ll use this as our learning experience,” Hulet said.
Twenty farmers snapped up booths at this year’s market, as the Downtown Development Authority worked to get the “farmer” back into farmers market.
Bob Helmer, who often goes by “Farmer Bob,” said the year’s market sales were about average, but a ready-to-drink peach cider seemed to be a hit with market-goers. The drink had nearly sold out about an hour after the market opened Thursday.
Having more competition among farmer vendors helps bring more people downtown, bringing more business to all, Helmer said.
“I don’t worry about competition,” he said.
Not a second later a potential customer walked up, eyeing a single piece of peach pie.
“Better have a whole pie, then you gotta stop and get a half-gallon of ice cream to put on it,” Helmer said, ever the salesman.
Vendors at the farm stand from Wag’s World Orchards weren’t so sure the sales of fruits and veggies were worth the travel from their home base in Eckert.
Karina Bedoy, who translated for Leticia Barajas, said while Thursday night’s market brought out plenty of customers, some Thursday nights in the heat of summer are a much harder sell.
If the vendor comes back next year, they will purchase one spot, not two, as they did this year.
A little farther down Main Street, paper bags were rustling nonstop as Anthony Fronczek’s son filled them with pints of raw honey for hungry customers.
Fronczek, of Horsethief Mesa Apiaries in De Beque, knows if he can get folks to taste his honey, they’ll be more likely to buy it.
It was Fronczek’s ninth year at the market and his third year in the sweet location beneath the canopy of a large tree near Rockslide Restaurant and Brewery.
“I think the exposure is awesome. You can tell,” he said, gesturing to a steady stream of people lured by the golden hues of his honey.
Members of the nonprofit group, PLACE, People for Local Activities & Community Enrichment, said being a part of the market helped spread word of their mission.
“We’d like a community center here, how about you?” members asked passers-by. Members said the market provided a friendly atmosphere to get residents’ names and email addresses so they could later send out newsletters and information about progress on building a community center.
“I think this was a worthwhile venture for us,” member Andreya Krieves said. “Everyone’s in a good mood. It gives us a lot of exposure.”