Nothing says summertime in Colorado like an open air market, especially amid the sun-soaked backdrop that defines Mountain Village Center.
Beginning Wednesday, June 20, Heritage Plaza, Mountain Village, will be easy to spot. Vendors from all over the state gather under white tents for this year’s market.
In its second year, the season-long market offers patrons an unconventional variety of goods and services. The usual are on hand: produce, dairy and prepared foods. But Heritage Plaza also welcomes less traditional vendors and activities. And to wrap up the idea of day-time entertainment in a nice, neat package, Mountain Village changed the name of its weekly happening: instead of “Mountain Village Farmers and Artisans Market,” the event is now called “Market on the Plaza.”
“Mountain Village is often seen as a European-style destination, so we decided to bring a little European tradition to the a market by offering a little of everything, just like many European towns do,” explained Nichole Zangara Riley, community relations manager and co-market manager. “Prepared foods, music, leather goods, art, fresh produce, live performances, textiles, fresh-cut flowers, spices, candles, jewelry. It is all about creating a vibrant atmosphere that makes people feel good to be here.”
Piggybacking on some key summer dates in Mountain Village – June 20, July 3, 11, 18, 25, August 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, September 1 and 13 – the Market on the Plaza is held in conjunction with the Town of Mountain Village’s FirstGrass and Sunset Blues Concerts in June and September, respectively, Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association’s Red, White and Blues Celebration and Sunset Concert Series, and Telluride Film Festival weekend. Market hours are from 12:30 – 6 p.m.
Of course what would a market be without the food, either newly harvested or freshly prepared? Co-Market Manager and Planner Katie Tyler, has reached out to vendors to begin to connect them with consumers and the greater community.
“The whole concept of farm to table – be it the kitchen table or restaurant table – is all about promoting sustainability, supporting our regional economy, and offering healthy food options,” Tyler said. “We used regional Colorado farming resources to extend our outreach as well as changed a few aspects of the market to benefit our vendors this year: vehicle access onto the plaza for load in and load out; a co-op booth option; free vendor parking; and assistance with the loading and unloading of goods.”
In that same vein – connecting the community with the market – the Town of Mountain Village has partnered with the Wilkinson Public Library, a mainstay vendor at this year’s Market on the Plaza.
“To say that the library is moving things uptown is an understatement. In the words of one staff member, the Wilkinson is ‘invading’ Mountain Village and we couldn’t be more thrilled,” Zangara Riley said.
Now in its fourth year, the library’s Books and Cooks series invites guest chefs to cook a dish from one of the many cookbooks in the library’s collection. Books and Cooks gets the Main Stage in Heritage Plaza beginning with the July 3 market. The first chef scheduled to showcase her remarkable skills is Lisa Dahl. As the executive chef and owner of two five-star restaurants in Sedona and Scottsdale, Lisa recently published a cookbook entitled “The Elixir of Life: Finding Love and Joy in the Passionate Pursuit of Food.” Many of the recipes in this book focus on different interpretations of some of the lustier and rustic recipes found in Italy. And all lucky market patrons are able to sample what she prepares.
“How perfect that the first Market on the Plaza cooking demonstration features such a celebrated chef. We couldn’t have planned this better even if we tried,” said Zangara Riley. “Later in the summer, Chef Bud, host of Books and Cooks, leads cooking demonstrations with other chefs using ingredients purchased at the Market on the Plaza, again tying things back to that direct consumer-farmer connection we are striving for.”
For the little ones, the Wilkinson Public Library’s children’s department brings three episodes of Story Time to the market June 20, July 18, and August 15, 2 p.m. . These outdoor story time readings are accompanied by bubbles, face-painting, and temporary tattoos.
And if all of this free entertainment is not enough, the library is currently scheduling several musicians to play at the market, including cowboy poet and singer Kerry Grombacher, who performs July 11. A poetry reading Tuesday, July 3, features Laurie Wagner Buyer and W.C. Jameson, who perform their unique western brand of poetry from their latest book, “When I Came West.” That takes place at 2:45 p.m. before the “Red, White and Blues Celebration” Concert
The library also has a “help desk” booth all summer long where patrons are able to receive staff assistance, such as applying for or renewing a library card, answering technical questions regarding iPhones, iPads, laptops and more.
The offerings and entertainment don’t end here. More surprises are in store as Zangara Riley and Tyler continue to book new programming and vendors.
“Our market has almost doubled in size over last year in terms of vendor numbers. We want to see that number continue to grow so that our market patrons really feel like they are getting a well-rounded open- air market experience. To that end, we will keep the application process open on a rolling base,” explained Tyler.
The Town of Mountain Village accepts vendor applications throughout the season. To incentivize potential vendors, applicants can purchase a 2012 Mountain Village Business License for $25, a $100 value, and for another $50 can participate in the remaining 11 markets. Applications must be received two weeks prior to the market date.
For an updated list of what to expect from one market to the next, please check out www.townofmountainvillage.com/market or like Mountain Village at www.facebook.com/townofmountainvillage.