Sunday during the summer, Pioneer Park goes from being an uncertain
part of the downtown landscape to being one of the biggest cultural
centers of the state.
Farmer’s Market brings the best in produce and freshly made food from around the state all to Downtown SLC (and other points around the state), giving people the chance to buy local foods and beverages and experience many different events and music on a Sunday morning. I got a chance to chat with Kim Angeli, the Special Events Director of the Downtown Alliance about Farmer's Market, the Alliance itself, her thoughts on the local scenes, and some other topics that came to mind.
Gavin: Hey Kim. First off, tell us a little bit about yourself, and how did you first get involved with the Downtown Alliance?
Kim: Originally from the east coast, I found my way to Utah 17 years ago. Living in Utah has developed a love of all things outdoors. Each season brings new physical challenges and new gear to buy. Also, I have found this state to be full of intellectual challenges. Here, I have achieved a Bachelor's degree from the University of Utah and I am currently one field project away from a Masters Degree from Westminster College. In conjunction with my education, I have learned so much from the strong counter culture in Salt Lake City, a direct effect of living in a conservative state. I spent the early parts of my career working at ski resorts and managing restaurants. During this time, I first was involved with the Downtown Alliance by filling in at the Farmers Market. If I wasn't working, I would have been there anyway. As a consumer, I loved the Farmers Market for many reasons. First and foremost, great food. I love to cook and to share meals with friends. The Market was always full of great foods and inspiration for great meals. Beyond that, the Market offered a sense of community, a place where the city could gather on Saturday morning. As I was nearing the end of my coursework at Westminster, the position of event manager opened up at the Downtown Alliance. I was selected from 40 candidates, and I like to think that my array of professional skills set me apart from the crowd. In all reality, it was likely my love of the Farmers Market and my willingness to work hard for peanuts that landed me this position. Three year later, I still love my job, and I would still be at the Farmers Market if I didn't work there.
Gavin: What does your job as Special Events Director entail, and what are some of the events you've created or helped thrive over the years?
As Special Events Director, I manage, create, and implement the
Downtown Alliance events as well as offering support and advice to
organizations wanting to create events downtown. The Downtown
Alliance is active in many economic development and policy
initiatives for the city, but our events are meant to breathe life
into the city, to bring people downtown. The main events that I am
responsible for throughout the year are: Downtown Farmers Market and
Art & Craft Market, Lights On! and the downtown holiday lights,
First Night Salt Lake, and Live Green Sustainable Living Festival.
Other events managed by the Downtown Alliance, but not me personally
are Downtown Achievement Awards, Downtown Dine O Round, and the
Downtown Economic Forum. We are also involved in smaller pieces
throughout the year. For example, the Temp Muse on Broadway is a
mural project that we completed last year.
Gavin: For those who are unaware of it, tell us about the Farmer's Market, and how it officially get started as an annual event downtown?
Kim: The Downtown Farmers Market takes place every Saturday from the 2nd Sat. in June to the 3rd Sat. in October from 8am to 1pm. The Downtown Farmers Market was created by the Downtown Alliance in 1992 to generate a new tradition in downtown Salt Lake City by providing an opportunity for local growers and food and craft artisans to sell directly to the public. We also hoped that the energy and vitality of a market would aid in the growth and development of the neighborhood surrounding Pioneer Park. The Market succeeded in these early efforts and has evolved into one of the west’s largest community markets. The primary focus is to encourage local growers, large and small, to develop a strong agricultural way of life and to bring their fresh products directly to the public. Our growers not only offer fresh fruits and vegetables, but also a wide variety of flora, bulbs, organics, greens, fruits, cheese, eggs, locally-made jellies, and other types of agricultural products.
Kim: The Downtown Farmers Market also aids and encourages small entrepreneurs in the area of homemade crafts and new food businesses. These types of vendors have found a wonderful niche at the Market, broadening the customers’ experiences and strengthening the Market’s presence in the community. In 2003, the Downtown Arts and Crafts Market merged with the Farmers Market to accommodate the increased demand for quality, local goods. We have included certain types of products not found at more traditional green markets because we feel that our commitment extends beyond our growers to encompass the broader community of business. As a result, this market has a certain ‘feel’ that makes it unique to Utah. We are pleased to have a part of this wonderful event and look forward to another delicious summer, celebrating our 16th year in Pioneer Park!
Gavin: Why was Pioneer Park chosen as the place to hold it every weekend?
Kim: Pioneer Park was selected to revitalize the neighborhood. Since then, 2 new hotels, thriving businesses, etc...
Gavin: Are the people who sell stuff mainly from the Salt Lake County area, or are there people from all over the state who make the long trip just to be up here?
Kim: The Farmers Market includes vendors from all over the state and beyond (Intermountain West). The longest distance traveled is probably from Hurricane (melons and pecans), but close behind would be Moab and Green River. We have a handful of vendors from Malad, ID and even 1 from Big Piney, WY.
Gavin: You also include live music every weekend from different acts. Was that done by bands requesting to play, or was it a choice from the start that you wanted music being heard?
Kim: Music. One of the fun things at the farmers market are the buskers/street performers. We have a variety of performers at the Market that come to play for tips. We do not audition, so some are good and some are terrible, but it creates a unique atmosphere. None of these musicians are amplified. We started have live music from time to time in the center of the park to invite crowds to stay longer and to visit the art and craft market. Three years ago, we launched the official Music at the Market program in conjunction with City Weekly and as a trade for advertising. Now, we are also receiving support from a grant from the Salt Lake Arts Council which helps us pay the musicians.