The Insider's Guide to the Dillon Farmers Market: A Summer Staple in the Colorado High Country
When people think of Colorado, they tend to think of snow-capped mountains and stands of aspens. But with its agreeable temperatures and abundant sunshine, Colorado has a large, thriving agricultural scene, providing a wide variety of local offerings. Nowhere is this more evident than at the Dillon Farmers Market in Summit County, where locally grown fruits and vegetables are just part of the market’s wide appeal.
"Our vendors are some of the kindest, coolest people on earth," says Matt Lope, an organizer of the market. "And that vibe permeates the Dillon Farmers Market."
Every Friday from June through September, tempting smells waft through the air and the sounds of a bustling market echo through the valley from this small mountain community. The weekly market proudly features the best Colorado-grown produce, but it also showcases locally produced cheeses, meats, honey, confections, bread, pastries, and all sorts of other treats. Artisans exhibit unique clothes and jewelry, handmade pottery and crafts, health/beauty products, and even home goods are among the more than 130 vendors each week.
"It's the best market with a great mountain vibe," says Kristy Canaday, the customer care and marketing manager of Taspen's Organics. "There’s tons of food offerings and terrific fresh produce and unique products. The vendors are very unique and there is always a fun gift, treat, or food to buy there."
A day at the Dillon Farmers Market is a way to slow down, listen to live music, and literally smell the flowers. Have a cup of freshly roasted coffee, enjoy a stuffed crepe or an authentic tamale, and wash it down with fresh lemonade. Visitors leave fed, happy, energized, and with a trunk full of fresh, healthy food and gifts that people won't find anywhere else. Anytime is a good time to visit, but here are the highlights of what makes each month special.
June: The season is just getting started. Be on the lookout for all varieties of greens, asparagus, chard, cherries, rhubarb, and early strawberries and tomatoes.
July: Things kick into high gear here. Broccoli, cauliflower, apricots, and green beans are in abundance. Early sweet corn starts to show up around mid-month and summer squashes pop up. It’s also when the famous Rocky Ford melons arrive—they are not to be missed.
August: If there is only one time to visit a farmer’s market in Colorado, it’s August. That’s when the famous Palisade peaches hit their peak. They can be found from late June to mid-September, depending on the year. But in August, they’re everywhere and at the height of ripeness. They’re large, juicy, and scrumptious. It’s also time for herbs, raspberries, chili and bell peppers, and plums.
September: Harvest season. The stands are bursting at the seams. Grapes, watermelon, and pumpkins make their appearance. Apples and pears are peaking.
It’s always fun to shop and eat with the seasons; it’s the reason that locals and visitors alike return to the market week after week. But that’s only part of the story as the Dillon Farmers Market hosts a large number of regulars that are always worth a visit.
Brooke Comai, owner of Climax Jerky , has been selling at the Dillon Farmers Market since 1999. "I have lived in Dillon for about 20 years and a lot of locals visit the market," she says. “I love it because I see a lot of friends, old and new.” Climax Jerky specializes in gourmet jerky that comes in a massive variety of flavors and types, including salmon, bison, venison, elk, turkey, wild boar, duck, and even alligator.
The award-winning Winter Park Honey comes straight from the field, no blending and no processing. It’s bottled by hand and made in the USA. It sells inventive blends like avocado honey and chocolate honey as well as medicinal ones like buckwheat honey for coughs or ginger honey for digestion. Björn’s Colorado Honey is a Boulder-based, small-batch honey producer run by Pontus Jakobsson, is a third-generation beekeeper who grew up in Sweden and learned the profession from his grandfather, the company’s namesake. You’ll find some unique honey creations based on their Swedish family traditions, including a crystallized version that’s popular in Europe.
This family-owned Styria Bakery II is a European artisan bakery has been in business since 1996. You’ll find handmade bread with natural starter and with no preservatives. Want to be a hero at brunch? Make French toast from their Lemon Mint White Chocolate loaf, a soft, moist lemon bread with white chocolate chips and fresh mint.
Living Greens Colorado makes jellies, jams, and syrups—as well as skin-care products—from wild-gathered flowers, fruits, seeds, and plants, while P&L Enterprises sells dry-packaged dip mixes in over 20 flavors. Stop by Jackie’s Java for incredibly fresh coffee that was roasted just a day before coming to market
You’ll find locally grown, organic produce from Forte Fruit, Palisade Peach Shack Wag’s World Orchards , Miller Farms & Eat A Peach , in addition to grass-fed meats and organic butters and desserts at the market.
Those looking for home goods and accessories are not left wanting either. Be on the lookout for these one-of-a-kind vendors:
At Bear Mountain Metal Art , the artist takes his inspiration from the backcountry and wildlife of Colorado. It shows in his art, which is a fun way to bring the outdoors in. If looking for classic Western or rustic furniture, look no further than The Cabin Collection. These folks started making furniture 33 years ago out of a passion for woodworking. Made by Master Craftsman Jonathan Frykholm and his two sons, their pieces bring that cozy cabin feeling to any dwelling.
This year marks the 7th season that Taspen's Organics & Dragonfly CBD/Hemp Oil will be at the market. They produce high-quality CBD/Hemp oil combined with organic avocado and olive oils to offer a wonderful healing serum that reduces anxiety, help with sleep, alleviates pain from inflammation and arthritis, and assists to kill free radicals.
Amber Bath offers its natural soaps, body scrubs, and moisturizers, which are all handmade from 100 percent natural ingredients, while Breckenridge Candle Cabin features all-natural soy candles scented with pure essential oils. At Flowers for 3 Greenhouse , you can buy hanging baskets, geraniums, and herbs, alongside a variety of colorful plants.
You’ll find lots to do at the Dillon Farmers Market in addition to shopping. Start the day with Yoga in the Park as the market opens at 9 a.m. Instructors from the Bhava Yoga Studio will have you feeling calm, relaxed, and rejuvenated. From 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., you’ll enjoy live music, with a variety of performers scheduled throughout the summer. Families will enjoy a kid’s area, yard games, and other children’s entertainment each week such as a performance by Magic Rob or face painting.
Or make a day of it in Dillon, by pairing another activity with your trip to the farmers market. Rent a powerboat, sailboat, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard at the Dillon Marina and explore the scenic mountain lake. Rent a bike and enjoy the area trails or simply cruise around town. Learn the history of the area by taking a tour with the Summit Historical Society, which has a number of options each Friday. Finally, hang around until the evening when you can take in a free summer concert at the new Dillon Amphitheater. No matter how much time you have to spend in Dillon, you’ll find something to enjoy.
*For 2018, the Dillon Farmers Market will be open at its new location on West Lodgepole Street every Friday from June 8 to Sept. 14. Hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Parking can be found on Lake Dillon Drive and at Marina Park lot. *
Written by Shaine Smith for RootsRated Media in partnership with Town of Dillon.