Park City Farmers Market celebrates 15 years
It’s summertime, and that means it’s Park City Farmers Market time.
The weekly set up that is open at Canyons cabriolet parking lot every Wednesday through October from noon until 6 p.m. is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, according to Volker Ritzinger, owner, founder and organizer of the Park City Farmers Market.
"When we started off, I was planning to keep this going as long as I could and to make it better every year," Ritzinger told The Park Record. "We’re at that stage right now where we are getting quality produce and well-made items."
That said, the growth of the market has surprised Ritzinger.
"When I started, I wanted to keep it small — in the 50 vendor range," he said. "Now, we have sometimes 200 vendors."
Ritzinger attributes the growth to adjustments he has made over the years.
"Things always change, so you have to be able to adapt," he said. "You have to have an original vision and do what you can to keep it viable."
The biggest change at the Farmers Market came in 2008 when the nation’s economy nosedived.
"Before that, we only allowed produce and food, and not arts and crafts," Ritzinger said. "When the economy deadlocked, all of these people were having a hard time making their mortgage payments. So, I opened the market up to them so they could find a way to keep their houses by selling jewelry and whatever they wanted to make."
Adjusting to change is something Ritzinger is used to.
"I run a bakery and pizza business and pick up aluminum recycling from Hill Air Force Base and coach hockey, so I have to be creative and constantly open to new ideas," he said. "If you have a concept and stick with it, sooner or later, it will get stuck and not evolve. That’s something that I don’t want to do. I want to make this Farmers Market better all the time."
That said, Ritzinger sticks with his idea of quality.
"I go and visit each of the farms that apply to be a part of the market," he said. "I want to make sure that when they come here, they are able to sell the freshest produce they can, because I want the best food for Park City. I don’t want any GMOs or hybrid crap.
"It’s funny because I have become something like a supermarket operator because every year new policies come up," Ritzinger said. "I have to report to the department of agriculture and the health department, and if something isn’t right, I’m the one who has to pay the fines. It has become more complicated, but that’s OK because I watch everyone here and I have to stay on top of it."
Live music is also a relatively new component to the market.
"Whenever Rich Wyman is in town, we’ll get him to play," Ritzinger said. "And Fred Buttrick will play as well."
Another new vendor this year is Park City Pines, a new company co-founded by Sam Hubbard.
"We have a lot by Home Depot and ship the trees to Utah from Oregon and deliver and install them," Hubbard said. "We are going to have a grand opening next week, but right now, we thought we’d come to the Farmers Market and introduce the product."
Although trees aren’t the type of product someone would purchase at the market, Hubbard talked with Ritzinger to see if he could introduce the Farmers Market clientele to them.
"I love the Farmers Market, and my wife and I come every week, even if it’s just to walk around," Hubbard said. "I used to live at Canyons when we first moved here two years ago, so we thought it would be a good idea to become a part of it and pass out our flyers."
There are some Farmers Market staples that people look forward to every year.
One of those offerings is the handmade limeade stand run by Beaux Underwood.
"It’s been called Mint Limeade and then Beaux’s Citrus," Underwood said. "Mint Limeade seems to stick, but I’m in transition and will eventually brand it Beaux Boisson, because I’m such a Franc-o-phile."
Underwood does everything by hand including squeezing the limes, adding the pure cane sugar and shaking each portion like a martini.
"It’s very physical and gets a little stressful with setting up the tent, faring the weather and all of that," he said.
In addition, Underwood manages and plays for the local bohemian jazz band St. Boheme.
"That also takes a lot of physical work, so I needed to make an adjustment with the limeade," he said. "I recently got a truck so I could basically save my body and keep doing this and still enjoy doing it."
Like his music, Underwood is happy people love his limeades.
"I’m grateful for the presence up here," he said. "I’m passionate about it and people seem to pick up on it. And that warms my heart. To be able to share something and gain a cult following is very gratifying for an entrepreneur and artist."
The Park City Farmers Market is going to remain at Canyons for at least until 2018, according to Ritzinger.
"I have two more years on the contract with Vail and [Park City Mountain Resort], but after that, we’ll have to renegotiate," he said. "I’ve always had a good relationship with the resort. We work together well. It’s like a team sport."
Park City Mountain Event Marketing Manager Whitney Wall said the resort enjoys partnering with Ritzinger for the Farmers Market.
"The Park City Farmer’s Market is a great community event that we enjoy supporting," Wall said in an email. "We are happy to be able to provide a location for local vendors to showcase fresh, quality products to our community."
Park City Farmer’s Market, run by Volker’s Bakery, opens every Wednesday at Canyons Cabriolet Parking Lot from noon until 6 p.m. through Oct. 12. For more information, visit parkcityfarmersmarket.com.
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Park City resident and author Justin T. Call has released “Master Artificer,” the next novel in his “Silent Gods” fantasy series.