Saturday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., the Opera Galleria will be hosting its ninth season of the Northern Colorado Food Cluster Winter Markets.
Operated by Young Farmers of the Front Range, a farming coalition, this seasonal market features “late-season produce, grass-fed meats, eggs, mushrooms, cheese, wine, jams and juices, salsas and sauces, baked goods and locally-made handcrafts,” as stated on the Downtown Fort Collins website.
“There’s also been live music every time we went,” said Joe Becker, Me Oh My Coffee and Pies co-founder and winter market vendor. “The market has artisan goodies and crafts, small batch butter and handmade soaps.”
Supported by Colorado State University and local outlets including the FOOD CO-OP and Be Local, these markets are truly community-centered events. With face painting for kids and live local music, the markets create an atmosphere that is welcoming to all ages.
“I’ve walked around the market when my mom was visiting and it was really cool,” said CSU senior art major Cassie Steger. “They have all kinds of things, like fresh veggies and really good salsa. It was nice to do something we both enjoyed.”
The market averages around 1,000 visitors during each of its four-hour runs. It’s “a little higher over holidays, a little lower on bad weather days,” said CSU Professor and NoCo Food Cluster Board Member Dawn Thilmany.
The NoCo Food Cluster’s primary goal with these markets is to support local food producers by creating an environment that allows for direct sales to consumers.
“These markets have provided the access some farmers and ranchers need to have year-round income from direct sales,” Thilmany said. “This encourages season extension activities, entrepreneurial innovations, and keeps the momentum of summer markets going year round.”
These markets seek to “facilitate the creation of relationships between producers and consumers” in a more personalized setting, as stated on the NoCo Food Cluster website.
Opera Galleria is located at 123 N. College Ave., and will also host Valentine’s Day Weekend Winter Markets Feb 13 from 4-8 p.m. and Feb. 14 from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. During this weekend, there will be over 40 vendors and live music by local band, Mountain Meets the Sea.
Collegian A&E Writer Caitlyn Berman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @CaitlynBerman.