Q&A: Erik Morrison
By Tucker Harris
BIG SKY – A longtime community staple is returning fresh produce, art and other local goods to the streets of Town Center: the Big Sky Farmers Market is back.
Every Wednesday from June 1 through Sept. 28 the Big Sky Farmers Market will host an eclectic mix of local and regional farmers, professional artisans, community organizations and young artists and entrepreneurs. Erik Morrison, the town center’s events and marketing manager, has been helping grow and manage the market for the past eight years.
To Morrison, showing gratitude and making a point to look your neighbor in the eye to say hello is a piece of Big Sky culture that makes its market so special.
EBS spoke with Morrison about other unique components of the market as well as what to expect this year.
The following Q&A has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Explore Big Sky: Tell me about the history of the Big Sky Farmers Market. How many seasons has it been happening and how long have you been involved?
Erik Morrison: This year will mark the 14th season of the Big Sky Farmers Market. The market was originally started by the Town Center Owners Association’s Ryan Hamilton and Wendy Swenson. Wendy went on to become the marketing director of the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce and I came on in 2014 as a consultant to help manage and grow the market.
EBS: What do you think makes the market special?
E.M.: It’s the vibe at the market and throughout Big Sky that makes it special. It’s felt the moment you turn on Lone Mountain Trail and are welcomed by the stunning sight and powerful presence of “The Peak.” You can’t help but slow down a bit and smile as she holds your gaze. That smile will follow you most everywhere you go on the faces of locals and visitors alike. Here we look each other in the eye, say hello, show gratitude and take pride in our customs and this place we call home. That vibe is the beating heart of Big Sky’s mountain culture and it beats strong at the market.
EBS: How would you describe the culture or identity of the market?
E.M.: The culture and identity of the market is as eclectic as the community that comes together every Wednesday to make it up. If you were on a tour bus of an all-time family band on their way to play an après block party and progressive dinner to help raise funds and awareness for community causes that matter and collided with a roadside produce stand and artisan festival … You might find yourself at the Big Sky Farmers Market.
EBS: What distinguishes Big Sky’s market from other farmers markets?
E.M.: I’d have to say it’s our balance and diversity of vendors with a focus on local and regional farmers, professional artisans, young artists and entrepreneurs, and community organizations. All of this is done with the goal of helping to foster and maintain a market that is true to our Big Sky mountain culture. This is no easy task. The market is constantly growing and changing with the growth of the community.
EBS: Are there any new vendors that you’re excited about having at the market this summer?
E.M.: We are looking to add some density to the venue that should allow for some new vendors. Look for some new faces and offerings later this summer.
EBS: Are there any changes this year to the market? What should visitors expect?
E.M.: In addition to live music at the Town Center Plaza, we are bringing back music to Fire Pit Park this summer. Blue Buddha Sushi Lounge is hosting music at the plaza and Lone Mountain Land Company is sponsoring the music at the fire pit.
We are also working with Big Sky Sustainability Network Organization, YES Compost and 406 Recycling to up our sustainability efforts and continue to strive toward a zero-waste event.
Besides that, the market layout will remain the same and run east from Town Center Plaza, down Town Center Ave. and into Fire Pit Park.
EBS: Anything else you would like to add?
E.M.: Thanks to all our sponsors and community partners who have worked with us to help make the market what it is today.