There were a few things one couldn’t help but notice last weekend at the season’s first Basalt Sunday Market. First, of course, were the numerous vendor booths arrayed on Midland Spur, alongside Lions Park, offering everything from produce to pizza to spices and jewelry. Beyond that, there were the bouncy houses and the music, staples of Basalt’s market that make it a great place to just hang out and let the kids run loose.
And then there were the dogs.
“You’ll see a lot of dogs … a whole lot of dogs, which I think is awesome,” said Zach Smith, who is in his first year organizing the weekly markets on behalf of the town of Basalt. “The community feel of it is definitely a large part of why people come.”
The plethora of pooches, which on Sunday ran the gamut from big labs of various colors to a pair of corgis, may have taken Smith a little by surprise as he stepped into his new role, but the laid-back, home-spun feel of the market was something he was expecting when his friend Jimmy Dula, who ran things for the last three years and is still a board member, handed him the reins.
“Everyone I talked to, especially the long-time vendors, they say it’s like a family,” said Smith. “They’ve been doing this so long together that it’s just got a really good culture and vibe.”
That vibe starts with the long-timers, many of whom have been hawking their wares on Midland Spur since the market was first launched seven years ago, but it seems to be getting an extra jolt from some of the newcomers and how enthusiastic they are about being in Basalt.
The Whole Empanada opened its nondescript bricks-and-mortar location in the business park along Willits Lane back in March and relished the chance to get its savory namesake stuffed pastries out in front of the public. A couple of booths down from that, Il Porcellino Salumi served up samples of a Rosette de Lyon sausage made with Woody Creek Distillers apple brandy at its Basalt facility. Opened last year for wholesale operation, the Southside outpost is Il Porcellino’s first outside of its Denver headquarters.
Another fledgling operation making its debut selling produce at the market was Juniper Farms, which launched in March and leases land in Emma to grow its veggies. It’s a business owned by Isabelle Delise, who grew up in Basalt and moved back here a year ago from the state of Washington to farm in the valley. And Gerb’s Grub, represented by a food truck serving tacos, quesadillas and tater tots, opened just two weeks ago in Carbondale.
All told, between full-timers, drop-ins and partial-season booths, Smith figured there would be 30 new vendors coming to Basalt this summer. He estimated that the market would reach full size by about the fourth or fifth week. It’s a full size that will be the market’s biggest ever, part of a growth curve that led the market’s organizers to ask the town to allow them to expand west down Midland Spur a couple of years ago.
This may mirror some nationwide trends, as weekly markets are certainly a thing right now, but the growth of the Basalt Sunday Market has less to do with trendiness than it does a desire to come be a part of the family. It’s what draws the newcomers, and it’s what keeps the old-timers coming back each summer.
“I love this market,” said Jeanie Norris, whose Sweater Jeanie booth has been a staple since the market’s inception. “You get to see everyone again and catch up with everybody. It really is like a family thing.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by Basalt resident Helen Sandler, whose Grand Junction-based Chew Bite Foods has been selling soups and puddings out of the booth next door for years.
“This is such a friendly market,” she said, as two kids strolled by with their dog and the strains of “Girl From Ipanema,” being beautifully sung and played by Donna Lorraine and Dan Sadowsky wafted over the crowd. “That’s why we love coming here so much.”
The Basalt Sunday Market will run every Sunday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. through Sept. 29. Kids and dogs are most definitely welcome.