MONTPELIER - The Montpelier Farmers Market is on the move again.
This time it has found new locations for its upcoming winter season, as well as for a spot next summer.
Organizers say the popular central Vermont market will move to Caledonia Spirits on Barre Street for the winter season, beginning Dec. 7, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. And beginning in May, the market will move to the state parking lot at 2 Taylor St., across from the new Montpelier Transit Center. It will be open from 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
In a statement, Hannah Blackmer, president of the Montpelier Farmers Market board of directors, welcomed the new locations.
“The summer and winter markets have faced a lot of challenges regarding location over the past several years and collaborating with Barr Hill (the brand name of Caledonia Spirits’ products) feels to be the start of a new era,” Blackmer said. “We're incredibly excited to explore this partnership. It's the first of many exciting things to come.”
Previously, the summer market had operated mainly on State Street - and occasionally returned to its former location in the Heney Lot off State Street - but there were sometimes conflicts with businesses along State Street whose owners complained the market was obstructing access for their customers.
In winter, the market has recently operated at City Center on Main Street, a location that also proved problematic, market officials said. Previous to that, the winter market had been held at Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Keri Ryan, interim market manager, said she was excited about the new collaborations.
“The Montpelier Farmers Market has never really found a nice, permanent home,” Ryan said. “We just recently voted to move our outdoor summer market to Taylor Street, which is a parking lot over from where it’s been for however many years in the Heney Lot, so now we’re moving over to a much larger space and will have a permanent lease, and we’re very excited about that.
“And we’ve been seeking a nice spot for the winter market, and this space, obviously, is beautiful,” Ryan said of the interior of the new Caledonia Spirits space.
Ryan said officials at Caledonia Spirits were excited about the prospect as well.
“When we reached out to Caledonia Spirits, they were extremely receptive and very supportive,” Ryan said. “So, we’ve just recently said, ‘It’s a go, let’s do this,’ and the vendors just got notified last week at our annual meeting at which they voted on it as well and approved the move. Everyone is over the moon.”
Caledonia Spirits Hospitality Manager Hallie Picard said the collaboration with the farmers’ market was a good fit.
“Part of our whole mission as a company is to be connected to our agricultural community and as a vendor in markets across the state, since our inception as a company, we’ve been a vendor at various markets, including Montpelier, and that’s how we built our business, so we’re very intertwined with farmers' markets," Picard said.
“So it’s all linked. Part of our mission is to support the working agricultural landscape, so it totally fits,” she added. “There are some logistical things to figure out, but we’ll make it work.”
Ryan said it is hoped to have between 30 and 40 vendors at the market at Caledonia Spirits, with some rotating to avoid making the space too tight.
Picard said the distillery was planning to change the hours of its bar operations to accommodate the market.
"Our bar will open at 10 a.m. - normally we open at noon on Saturdays - so we’ll have early bar options for those who want to indulge in that, some breakfast cocktails, some brunchy cocktails, so it should be fun,” she said.
Also, Picard said it planned to have J.D.K. B.B.Q., of Plainfield, provide a food service at the market at Caledonia Spirits.
Jimmy Kennedy, who runs J.D.K. B.B.Q. (and formerly River Run in Plainfield), said he planned to prepare pancakes and biscuits and offer fillings of Greenfield Highland Beef in Plainfield and charcuterie from Vermont Salumi in Barre, and is also thinking about preparing eggs and ratatouille.
Picard said the distillery normally conducts guided tours at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. but would reschedule the tours while the market was operating.
Beginning Dec. 4, the farmers' market will hold winter markets weekly on Dec. 14 and 21. In the new year, the winter market will resume Jan. 4 and operate biweekly through April before moving to Taylor Street in May.
Ryan also noted that siting the market at the distillery might make it less accessible for customers, so market officials are hoping to arrange with Green Mountain Transit to provide a shuttle service from the downtown, or alter one of its routes on Saturday.