Woodland Park Farmers Market: Come for the Mountains, Stay for the Food
Woodland Park is a Colorado mountain town. Sitting at a lofty 8,400 ft beside Pikes Peak, known as ‘America’s Mountain’ for it’s mention in “America The Beautiful”, Woodland Park is natural playground of sorts with its many outdoor offerings. Woodland Park can be taken advantage of and enjoyed year round, and the same can be said for the local produce at the summer and winter Woodland Park Farmers Markets. The summer market, in its 27th year, has been a notable “must-visit” market on state and national lists.
“We’ve marveled at the summer market’s growth. The market began in 1991 with an original group of six vendors and has expanded to over 100 vendors, with attendance rising to an average of 5,000 customers,” says Judy Crummett, one of the markets’ co-managers. “The markets’ most worthwhile aspects for me are our great community, outstanding location, and wonderful vendors and customers.”
Follow along with Woodland Park’s winter market on Instagram, December 4th through the 17th!
Farmers Market Coalition: Give us a little bit of history about your market.
Judy Crummett: Two markets operating under Teller County Farmers Market Association (a 501(c)3 organization): Woodland Park Farmers Market (summer) and Woodland Park Winter Market. Summer market established 1990, and has been in continuous operation under the Board of Directors.Two market managers and our bookkeeper receive annual stipends, but it is predominantly volunteer-run. Our summer market is hosted outside, with 100 vendors and an average attendance of around 5,000/day. This market is about to move to it’s sixth location (in Memorial Park), and runs from June to September on Fridays.
Our Winter market is held indoors at the Ute Pass Cultural Center. The market opened in 2011, with 36 – 40 vendors and attendance of 200 – 600/day, depending on winter weather. The market runs from November to May on second Saturdays.
The markets maintain a 60% agricultural/garden/food vendor ratio, and the rest is made up from several special programs. Our intern program is entering it’s fifth year, and has been hugely successful in the summertime. We are researching funding for an upgrade to the apprentice program which would give us year-round help.
At our markets, there are always great finds among the numerous local food products.
FMC: Describe your market.
JC: Woodland Park is a rural mountain town with high elevation and views for days. Separated from city of Colorado Springs by Ute Pass, it is a popular area for camping, riding and hiking, and customers are drawn from all over the state and the country. Highway 24 runs through the town center, and is a main route to skiing destinations in the winter.
FMC: How do you generate neighborhood excitement for your market?
JC: In 26 years, we have found the best advertising is by word of mouth- but we have also had good results from advertising specifically in the food section of the larger newspaper in a nearby city. We are proud to participate in the Double Up Colorado double SNAP grant. Cooking demos are very popular, and last year our wonderful interns hosted market tours. We have live music at each market and have a Young Entrepreneurs program for children 18 and under. Occasionally we allow local groups to have presentations or host special kids’ activities and we make to promote good relations with local businesses through our Merchant Program.
We rely on our website, Facebook, Twitter, newspaper ads, flyers, local city signage, banners and pole flags to get the word out and promote the market and its many offerings. We also take advantage of the state Food Fresh Directory and any other free promotion links that pop up. Our Guest Instagram takeover is functioning as our first stab at Instagram, too!
FMC: How do the markets function serve and build community?
JC: The summer market is very scenic, usually with lots of sunshine and temperate weather, making it ideal for walking with the family and dogs in summer while taking in the spectacular mountain views. The markets are the perfect forums for small business start-ups and community gatherings. We bring the fun- notably we’ve had two flash mobs which were blasts. I love that we can help local community groups get their info out. For instance, we have two animal shelters that hold pet adoption events at the market.
FMC: What are some of your market’s challenges and successes?
JC: Some recent challenges have included dealing with major wildfires (Waldo Canyon Fire 2012 and Black Forest Fire 2013) during which travel was curtailed and some vendors lost their businesses. There was also severe flooding in 2013 which cut off the market from many vendors and customers in the middle of peak season.
The market was named Colorado’s Favorite (large) FM in 2011 in a national competition, and is currently listed at #37 in the top 50 FM in the country. It has received two community awards, for service to the community 2011 and Chamber of Commerce non-profit of the year in 2012.