August Miller, Deseret News
Ramone Terry-Lorenzo, 3, sits on the shoulders of her dad, Ryan, as he buys shallots from Jen Young at a booth at the season's first Downtown Farmers Market in Salt Lake City.

Pioneer Park's renovation paid off with record-breaking attendance at this year's opening of the Downtown Farmers Market.

"We had thousands more than the estimated 8,000 people that attended the market last year," said Camille Winnie, program manager of Downtown Alliance. "It's been a good day for vendors."

Ana Valdemoros, owner of Argentina's Best, made fresh empanadas on-site, filling the dough with a variety of fillings: traditional beef, chicken, spinach and lemon beef. She closed each empanada shell by repeatedly folding and pressing its edges. Her friend handled the money, dishing out the baked empanadas to satisfied customers.

"I have two small ovens and two hands," Valdemoros said. "We couldn't keep up today."

She was sold out by 11 a.m., two hours before closing. Even after running out of food, people still kept coming up, asking Valdemoros for business cards.

John Winders, owner of Spotted Dog Creamery, has been a vendor for six years, starting out with a booth and now owning his own plant. The crowd was unlike anything he has seen.

"This is the busiest opening day ever by a mile," Winders said. "There are wider sidewalks to accommodate the number of people."

Boyd Wold, who sells Caballo Negro energy drink, was driving with his family when he passed the bustle in Pioneer Park. He immediately pulled over to get information on how to be a vendor.

"I've never been here before," Wold said. "But I like how there is a lot of foot traffic and diverse people."

Juan and Kathleen Morales were visiting the market after hearing about it by word of mouth, and were pleased to find a place in Salt Lake City that offered homemade ethnic food like the empanadas. Juan also tried the Australian meat pie sold by another vendor and thought it was compatible to the meat pies he had eaten in London.

Kathleen initially thought that the market was going to be like a "produce aisle" outdoors.

"We use to live in France, and its farmers markets mainly sell produce," she said. "Here they also sell arts and crafts and more."

Beth Manning, however, expected more produce for sale.

"We just moved from Italy, and we're particular with our produce," Manning said. "We were expecting to see rows of fruits and vegetables instead of a couple of booths."

The lack of produce was evident, as most farms were stocked with far more starter plants than fresh crops. Kim Angeli, special events director for Downtown Alliance, explained that the cool and wet weather had set things back a couple of weeks for farmers.

Despite the limited selection this first week, there will be plenty in future weeks. Since there is a demand for produce, Downtown Alliance has added 10 new farmers on their list after three left.

"You can expect to see more produce added phase by phase," Angeli said. "There will definitely be more produce next Saturday."


E-mail: jfrancis@desnews.com