Every Saturday, the Downtown Year Round Farmers Market sets up shop, as local farmers and craft makers alike sell handmade and homegrown products to the Cedar City community.
“Everything has to be handmade, homemade or homegrown by [the vendor] or someone they know,” said Kassidy Skouson, the manager of the market. “We have a local rule where we want most everything local.”
In the last two years, the market has expanded from around 10 vendors to averaging 17 vendors each week. Many local artists, including jewelry makers, woodcrafters and painters sell their wares at the market.
The market also sells produce year round, courtesy of Miracle Gardens and Nature Hills Farms. Able to skip the grocery store, the market cuts out the middleman and allows shoppers to meet the very people producing their food.
“You will personally meet the baker, and you will personally meet the picker of the vegetables, and you’ll know people,” Skouson said. “You can go out to their farm and you can meet them face to face and see how they’re growing and their lifestyle.”
The market is tucked away in a corner right off of Main Street and Center Street, behind IG Winery. The vendors set up in a circle on a dirt patch underneath trees that provide ample shade during the summer months.
“It just feels so inviting,” she said. “So cozy and such a great atmosphere. I’ve heard that from so many people too who have come to the market and been like, ‘Wow this is so great!’ This feels like you’re in your own little bubble and the world is just going crazy outside of this.”
As COVID-19 has made its way into the Cedar City community over the past six months, Skouson and the other people involved with the farmers market have worked hard to keep the market open and adapt to the changing conditions.
In the first few months of the pandemic, the market removed their seating areas, and shoppers were asked to leave immediately after making their purchases. The market also offered a curbside service where customers could text or email Skouson their order and she would complete their shopping for them.
However, the market’s conditions slowly returned closer to normal as summer continued on, with some new safety precautions put in place.
Shoppers are again able to sit and hang out after making their purchases. However, each vendor is required to have hand sanitizer and encouraged, though not required, to wear a mask. Skouson explained that because the market happens outside, the market will not limit the number of people allowed to attend.
During these changes over the past few months, Skouson expressed gratitude for the community’s response during the unusual time.
“I feel like when the COVID started hitting, everybody was supporting local, so strong, it was so great and so crazy. But yeah, we honestly got so much more support from our community throughout this whole thing. It’s been amazing that way,” said Skouson.
Skouson believes that the market helps foster a close community, and hopes it can do so for Southern Utah University students as well. She expressed that the market has plenty to offer students.
“There are a lot of students who want home-baked goods. You want to come and try something that reminds you of home, or is just different but is so delicious. No one has any complaints about the baked goods,” said Skouson.
Skouson shared that many students do come to the market, and some of the vendors are even alumni.
Sabrina Forgie, one of the vendors who sells her handmade jewelry almost every week, is a former geology major from SUU.
“My husband and I both graduated,” said Forgie. “We love SUU.”
Forgie’s jewelry is reminiscent of her geology studies, as she uses a variety of stones to create necklaces, earrings and more. Her small jewelry business is called Under the Eave, and she both buys materials from stone shows and mines some herself.
Skouson hopes the market continues to expand, expecting even more vendors to join in the next few years. She shared that above all else, the local and inviting atmosphere creates an enjoyable experience for anyone who visits the market.
Vendors are charged a $10 fee each week to participate in the market, and expected to bring their own tables and chairs.
“People come and they just feel like they’re at home,” said Skouson.
The Downtown Year Round Farmers Market happens every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the summer and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the winter. The market is located outdoors at 45 W Center St. during the summer, and then moves to an indoor location with the same address during the winter.
The market plans to continue its tradition of having their Santa at the Market event in December, and the conditions will be the same as they move indoors and to their winter hours.
Story and photos by: Lainey Cartwright