PARK CITY, Utah — Even before it’s final Wednesday on October 26, The Park City Farmers Market can claim that its had the “best year ever”. Shoppers couldn’t wait to come out each week this season after the pandemic kept some away in years past.
Volker Ritzinger is the owner, founder and manager of the Farmers Market. His eight-year-old Bermese Newfoundland dog is the official Market Mascot. Upon asking him the dog’s name, he points to a tattoo on his arm which reads Cody. He said, “Take the C away from my son’s name, Cody, and you get our dog’s name, Ody.”
Two twenty-something women and the toddler with them were petting Ody. Ritzinger asked from where they came in his accent, and when one replied Germany and the other, Chech Republic, born and bread Austrian Ritzinger had a long conversation with them in their native language. The two women, it turns out, were au pairs for the toddler in Park City for two years and frequent the Farmers Market often.
The Market has occupied its current space in the parking lot of the Park City Mountain Canyon’s Base for 18 of its total 22 years. He likes it better than the three years spent at the Park City Mountain Base parking lot because it’s more centrally located to accommodate more shoppers.
He travels around Utah between May and October visiting farmers markets and actively recruiting the best organic farms.
“I’m so happy that we have so many good farmers in Utah because you know, every year a few retire, but then you get a few new youngsters. I go and inspect each one of these farmers once a year nice because they’re not allowed to use any spray,” Ritzinger said. “I told them 15 years ago, I need you to go non GMO, otherwise you cannot come to Park City. Because we need to have the best food and the best name and then more people come here and [say], ‘Wow, this is the best produce, the best food we can find’.”
The farmers pay very little to have a tent at the Park City Farmers Market and the other vendors pay a little more.
Ritzinger himself falls under the category of those other vendors with his Volker’s Bakery booth where people flock to the sweet and savory flavors of artisan breads, pastries and dipping sauces. Their products, freshly baked in Kamas for the last 26 years, are only available at farmers markets.
Elana Spitzberg, with her reusable bag in one hand, gave a high-five to Ritzinger with the other. She said, “I’ve been coming here every year that I’ve lived in town. I come for the peaches but stay for the rest of the delicious goodies.”
Ritzinger’s father was a baker back in Austria and Ritzinger grew up in the family bakery, but he didn’t want to be a baker, he wanted to be a professional hockey player. He tried out for the Salt Lake Golden Eagle’s team but, concedes, “I’m obviously pretty short and not so big so that didn’t last very long.”
He switched back to English from the previous conversation and charismatically ingratiated himself further with the Europeans who were still petting Ody. He laughingly said, “I played a lot of hockey in your beautiful country of the Czech Republic when I played for the Austria National Team but we never won, you guys beat us every time. We never won against Germany either; the Austrians seem to be better at skiing than they are at Hockey.”
The Park City Farmer’s Market doesn’t operate under contracts with Vail beyond a year to year basis, but he’s feeling confident and is already looking forward to next summer’s status quo.