Farmers Market to move off the street

       After a quarter century as an on-street sales event, the annual Farmers Market will break with tradition and move into Bancroft Park when it returns to Old Colorado City for its 26th season June 8.

The Farmers Market is seen in its former configuration on 24th Street. Photo looks north across Colorado Avenue. City regulations (existing but previously unapplied) include a requirement that the barricade placement and removal be performed by an authorized company. To avoid paying higher costs as a result, the market will move off the street and into Bancroft Park for the coming season, starting June 8.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The location will be close to the old one. The summer-Saturdays market has previously operated on closed-off 24th Street between Colorado and Pikes Peak avenues, with its big produce trucks parked along the east edge of the park.
       Now, “as far as I know, the vendors will sell off the other sides of their trucks,” summed up Frank Schmidt, owner of Schmidt Apiaries (honey) and president of the Pikes Peak Farmers Market group.
       As for the other vendors, “they will have to be in the park itself,” he said.
       He has rented the park on Saturdays “for the whole summer,” Schmidt added.
       The venue change was not the market's idea. When Schmidt applied for the usual street-closure permit this year, he was told about city rules that had previously not been mandated. In the past, all the city required was that the market place the appropriate signs and barricades at either end of the closed-off street (which Schmidt did himself).
       But to close off the street now, the city explained that he needed to develop a traffic control plan, to hire two police officers (one for each barricade), and to contract with an authorized company to place and then remove the barricades.
       “They made it to where I just can't do it [afford the cost],” Schmidt said. Renting the park is less pricey, but still more expensive than closing the street was, he noted.
       According to Police Department Sgt. Rob Kelley, who oversees special events in conjunction with a Mayor's Office counterpart, such regulations aren't new; “that's been our policy for years.” The difference this year, he said, is a city push to make sure the regulations are enforced evenly. For example, similar rules were mandated five years ago for the annual Coronado High Homecoming Parade that closes off Colorado Avenue.
       Evidently the Farmers Market has been “flying under the radar,” Kelley said, in terms of city officials verifying regulations. “When they applied this year, it got noticed.”
       Schmidt said he is hopeful the new layout will prove as popular with the public as the street was, but he has a couple of concerns. One is that the vendors will be more spread out than before. “I think some vendors might be unhappy,” he said. “It [the street] was always so compact.”
       Another concern is the grass in the park, that having vendor booths on top of it for about six hours every Saturday from June 8 to Oct. 26 will wind up ruining the lawn.
       In that regard, future plans being brought forward by the Old Colorado City Foundation include the possibility of street pavers to replace grass on part of the park's east side. The market could then set up on the pavers, according to Dave Van Ness, a foundation board member.

Westside Pioneer article