Park City Farmers Market is Ritzinger’s ‘baby’ | ParkRecord.com

Park City Farmers Market is Ritzinger’s ‘baby’

Volker Ritzinger, left, with his wife Michele, have organized and watched the Park City Farmers Market grow. The market is open every Wednesday at the Canyons from noon until 6 p.m. (Nan Chalat Noaker)

For the past 12 years, Volker’s Bakery owner Volker Ritzinger has organized the Park City Farmers Market.

Since 2002, it has been held at Canyons Resort cabriolet parking lot every Wednesday from noon until 6 p.m. from June through the end of October.

It has also grown in popularity. When it opened this year on June 5, there were already 70 vendors in place and a large crowd of people looking for fresh produce, meats, clothing and arts and crafts.

Ritzinger said in the next few weeks the number of vendors will grow.

"This year, we’ll have up to 110 vendors participating," Ritzinger told The Park Record. "Last year we had between 75 to 80 vendors."

Originally, the market was a true farmer’s paradise that only offered locally grown produce and meats.

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"Every year you have to adjust, because you need to get bigger and bigger," he said. "So, we add new things."

In 2008, Ritzinger started recruiting jewelers and crafty vendors.

"I found there were many Utah artists who wanted to sell something different and funky, but couldn’t," he said. "So, we opened up the market to include them.

"That way they would be able to make some money and maybe keep that house or make that car payment," Ritzinger said. "Plus, it also became a way to get people to hang out a little bit and find some cool stuff."

Some of the newer additions include live music and a beer garden.

"This year, we are having people come to do face painting and balloon crafts," he said.

To manage the growth, Ritzinger had to first find a layout plan that made sense.

"When we decided to offer more jewelry and clothing vendors, we needed to split the market in half," he said. "We set up the arts and crafts on the northern part of the lot and dedicated the south side to the farmers."

But just because there are more artists involved in the market doesn’t mean Ritzinger is losing touch with his farmers.

As he did 12 years ago, Ritzinger still personally visits each of the farmers and producers who have submitted applications for the market, he said.

"I inspect the food," he said. "I look to see how things are grown and how the food is made.

"We try to stay away as much as we can from the genetically modified products, because we don’t want that anymore," he said. "We make sure the people who submit applications know to stay away from that type of stuff, especially in the cheeses and things like that."

Ritzinger wants the market to be the best in Utah.

"I have found a good balance between the market and my bakery," he said. "I have people in place to run the bakery, so it can go on, but the Farmers Market is my baby."

This year, there are vendors coming to the market from as far as St. George.

And while that can be costly for the vendor, Ritzinger has come up with a system.

"We decided if people make the long trip to come here and they are all organic and natural, we will pay for their gas," he said. "If they are 100 percent organic certified, they don’t have to pay anything to be a part of the market. Otherwise it’s $10."

This year, like last year, the Park City Farmers Market had to make some adjustments because of construction in the upper portion of the parking lot.

"We also moved the market down a bit towards State Road 224 to make way for the construction," Ritzinger said. "And we found an alternative way to come in and out to our parking area behind the 7-11. I’ve found that is better for the traffic flow, and as long as people get used to it, we shall all be OK."

The Park City Farmers Market usually runs until the end of October.

"As long as the farmers have one last apple in the tree or one more onion in the ground, and as long as we can get the good stuff, we’ll be open," Ritzinger said. "Once the first frost comes, we’ll close it up. That’s why we don’t have a fixed closing date.

"I encourage people to come out to the market to get fresh, organic foods," he said. "You never know what you will get in the grocery stores and you never know what kinds of chemicals are being used to grow that food."

The Park City Farmers Market is open at Canyons Resort’s cabriolet parking lot every Wednesday from noon until 6 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit www. parkcityfarmersmarket.com/

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