Ogden Farmer's market crowds mushroom after changes

Sunday , August 10, 2014 - 7:42 AM

OGDEN — If Ogden’s Farmers and Art Market keeps growing at the rate it has this year, organizers might have to procure some additional real estate.

A month into this year’s 12-week schedule, the market is averaging about 10,000 visitors each week, according to estimates from Dan Musgrave, executive director for the nonprofit Downtown Ogden Inc.

“Total visitation this year is up by around 35 percent,” Musgrave said. “It’s a ’roll-through’ crowd, but it’s noticeably busier this year.”

Musgrave said while they may not have expected such a sharp increase so soon, a jump in visitors is something market organizers planned for this year.

A pilot program, which ran during the first few weeks of the market, was instituted this year to test the impact of extending vendor offerings down the 100 block of 25th Street. The program was deemed successful and as a result, the market now stretches from the Ogden Municipal Gardens near Washington Boulevard down Historic 25th Street to Wall Avenue.

“We now have the second biggest market in the state (behind Salt Lake City),” Musgrave said. “We keep growing and it’s mostly been kind of a word of mouth thing. It’s been a natural progression”

While the total number of visitors is an estimate, the number of vendors participating in the market is not. Musgrave said that number has increased dramatically as well.

The market averages 210 vendors each week, which is an increase of 48 from last year, Musgrave said.

Ogden resident Gary Taylor said he attends the market each week and has noticed a difference this year.

“There are tons and tons of people walking through there,” he said. “I think they have more variety this year. I’ve also noticed people are giving out more samples, which probably brings people in.”

Taylor said his only complaint is that the market doesn’t extend further into the day.

“It’s a shame they close everything up at one o’clock,” he said. “I don’t think there would be any drop of (in attendance) if they extended it a couple hours.”

Volker Ritzinger, owner of the popular Volker’s Bakery in Park City and manager of that city’s farmer’s market, said he visits 25 farmers markets across the state each week, including Ogden. He said in his estimation, Ogden’s market has no rival.

“Ogden started with about 30 vendors, but it’s grown so much,” he said. “I really would consider it the best market in Utah. It’s run the best and has the most to offer. I almost don’t like to say that because I’d like my market (in Park City) to be number one, but we don’t have the resources yet.”

But like Taylor, Volker said he’d like to see Ogden’s market extended.

“I’d just like to see it start earlier each year,” he said. “I think they could start in June instead of the middle of July.”

The market may see even more visitors until early September, as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continue to run its open house of the Ogden temple. The open house began Aug. 1 and will run until Sept. 6. Ogden city expects at least 750,000 visitors during the five-week open house period.  

The market began this year on July 12 and runs each Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. until Sept. 27.

Vendors interested in the market can access guidelines, license and fee requirements, and an application form online.

Contact reporter Mitch Shaw at 801-625-4233 or mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23.

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