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Symbol of summer: Farmers market returns 

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Weather was warm and sunny to kick off a Big Sky summer tradition. PHOTO BY JASON BACAJ


The 2023 Big Sky Farmers Market season opened on Wednesday, with streets blocked off from cars and swarmed by eager community.  

Despite the recent trend of intermittent rain, balmy and sunny weather glowed welcome to a Big Sky summer favorite. Town Center was lined with dozens of booths and stands at Fire Pit Park and Town Center Avenue. Event organizer Erik Morrison estimated around 65 or 70 booths for the June 7 market.  

Local students swarmed the streets, salivating at the thought of Big Sky School District’s summer break less than 48 hours away. Families visited artisan vendors, live music filled the air, and at least one young adult was seen carrying two cans of Coors Light in one hand, and one more so-called “silver bullet” in the other. A can-to-man ration of three-to-one, in that case.  

Distant thunder rumbled around 6:30 p.m., and rain came around 7:30, but businesses got their dose of face-to-face interactions under the big sky.  

Morrison, owner of Love Street Media which produces the farmers market with Town Center, spoke with EBS about the summer kickoff.  

“It’s a blur to me,” Morrison said, on the event’s growth. “I took a tally of how many vendors we have this year… We have over 140 vendors.” 

Morrison notes that not all of those vendors will be at the market at the same time, but he expects to see over 100 vendors each week during peak markets in July and August.  

EBS asked about the economic impact of this tradition. Morrison believes the farmers market drives some of the highest rates of pedestrian traffic downtown all year.  

“I have a feeling that it’s a positive impact on Big Sky by bringing more people into the downtown and giving them a great experience,” Morrison said. “Supporting all the businesses, brick and mortars alike… Walking down the street I can see that every bar and restaurant is packed.”  

He added that his vision and intent has always been a balance between bolstering local artists and small business owners, and bringing in goods and services that aren’t typically found in Big Sky.  

“Trying to find a good synergy and symbiotic relationship between everybody who’s there,” he said. “It’s a delicate balance, and it’s a hard thing to do. 

“The whole scene and vibe, the whole culture of the market, is something I’m very passionate about and protective of, and I want to see it grow in a sustainable way to support our local businesses,” Morrison said.  

The Big Sky Farmers Market sees applications from businesses all over the place, even the East Coast, Morrison said. If the farmers market does allow a foreign vendor in, it’s because they offer something that Big Sky doesn’t have.  

“It must fit and jive with the whole vibe of Big Sky’s culture,” Morrison added.  

New for 2023 

In the event’s 15th year, Morrison continues to work toward improving the experience for vendors and visitors. He’s been involved with this event since 2014.  

“We are trying to build out a food court area over in the Town Center Plaza. All of our food trucks [and snack foods, desserts] we’re trying to have on that side of the venue,” Morrison explained, referring to the area near the Wilson Hotel and Town Center playground.  

That area was intentionally designed with modern infrastructure including Wi-Fi and electrical hookups which food vendors use, he said.  

The Fire Pit Park area is a better fit for certain vendors including farmers, cottage food producers, regional meat producers, florists and purveyors of craft goods.  

“We still want to keep vibrancy over there,” he said. He listed a few examples: A beef vendor from Shields Valley, a regenerative agriculture hub from Gallatin Gateway called RegenMarket, and Peeler’s Wild Alaska Seafood—a local guy who brings back his catch from Alaska.  

Another source of vibrancy, the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center added a tiny theater trailer. Audiences can watch a mini-play every 15 minutes or so, Morrison said.  

In the nonprofit space—the second-largest vendor category—Morrison said Grow Wild (formerly Gallatin Invasive Species Alliance) “really stepped up their game” by adding an informational trailer to teach people about invasive species and native flora. That hands-on, interactive education is also being implemented with Wild Big Sky’s wildlife education trailer, and Hey Bear’s bear spray rental and education program, Morrison said.  

Second Season Co., Morrison’s culture-focused education program, will provide wildfire awareness and campfire education throughout the summer, he added.  

Not much is new in the food realm, mostly because the farmers market lacks turnover from typical booths, Morrison said.  

“Super consistent, a lot of veteran vendors,” he said. Montage Big Sky’s Wildflower Market, Bakery and Café will bring baked goods to the party, however.  

On the beverage side, Block 3 Kitchen and Bar and the Wilson Hotel are hosting a beer trailer, filling a void left by Lone Peak Brewery, Morrison said.  

He gave shoutouts to sponsors, including Lone Mountain Land Company who stepped up to fund live music at the farmers market for the entire summer—one artist on each end of the venue.  

Svalinn Dogs, a Livingston-based guard dog training service, and Summit Aviation both sponsored sustainability aspects of the event: with waste-reduction guidance from Big Sky Sustainability Network Organization (SNO), the farmers market is pushing for compostable and recyclable materials only and will feature water refill stations beginning next week.  

And Morrison’s Second Season Co. will run an information booth and set up signage, starting next week. 

Two kinds of high traffic  

One concern, visible as usual on Wednesday, was the confluence of pedestrians crossing Ousel Falls Road and the ever-bustling traffic of worker vehicles and large trucks after 5 p.m.  

Morrison said the Farmers Market has been keenly aware of that hazard. He looks forward to the traffic calming project designed to slow vehicle speeds and increase pedestrian visibility on Ousel Falls Road. That project is expected to begin any day, just the first of many improvements to pedestrian safety in Big Sky.  

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