Santa Fe Indian Market celebrates 90th year

Santa Fe will be bursting at the seams Saturday, August 20th and Sunday, August 21st when SWAIA (Southwest Association for Indian Arts) presents the 90th annual  Santa Fe Indian Market. Works on display will include both traditional and contemporary pieces encompassing a wide range of mediums.  The 2011 market, expected to attract over 100,000 attendees, is the first one exhibitors from Canada’s First Nation people are invited to participate.

2010 Santa Fe Indian Market

The Plaza full of exhibitors at the 2010 Santa Fe Indian Market photo/Steve Collins

Indian Market has grown tremendously since the first one, called the Southwest Indian Fair, was held in 1922. Over time, it has evolved into the largest, most prestigious show of its kind in the world. This year 1,033 Native artists and artisans will exhibit their wares in 680 booths. Another fifty plus booths will house food, book sales, non-profit organizations and more.

Pottery at the 2010 Santa Fe Indian Market

Pottery at the 2010 Santa Fe Indian Market Photo/Steve Collins

The Friday evening preview event attracts serious collectors, museums, gallery and shop owners and the merely curious. General admission to the event (for SWAIA members only), is at 7pm. If you’re not a member, you can join at the door. It’s an opportunity to scope out the artists and their wares and to formulate a shopping strategy for the next day. For some serious buyers, speed is of the essence. Because the competition is fierce and. supply is limited, people line up at the booths hours before they open, sometimes all night The best of show and the most renowned artists usually are in high demand and their best pieces can be scooped up early on Saturday. Nothing may be sold before the 7:00am opening time. Legend has it that some folks pay people to stand vigil for them and show up in time to buy.

Wanisia Spry Misquadace's birchbark biting and silversmith at 2010 Santa Fe Indian Market, photo Steve Collins

Wanisia Spry Misquadace's prize-winning birchbark biting and silver container, 2010 Santa Fe Indian Market, photo/Steve Collins

Some really collectible artists can sell out quickly and head for home. Their booths will be taken over by someone on the waiting list. Prices at the market can be high; after all, these are some of the best Indian artists and artisans in the world. There are also affordable pieces or you can just browse and see some the best Native American work on the Planet. Sales here can be brisk and some artists make a year’s income at this event.

Sculpture at 2010 Santa Fe Indian Market

Sculpture at 2010 Santa Fe Indian Market, photo/Steve Collins

For hotels and restaurants, this is the busiest weekend of the year. Lodgings often up a year in advance; popular restaurants can sell out a few months prior to the weekend. If you didn’t make reservations in advance, there are a lot of restaurants in town and there will be somewhere for you to eat. If you go to a place that doesn’t accept reservations, be prepared to wait.

It is a wonderful and vibrant time to be in Santa Fe. If you don’t come this year, it’s held the same time every year*. Put the Santa Fe Indian Market on your schedule for next summer. See you at the Plaza!

*The date is the first weekend after the first Monday in August and is decided by the City of Santa Fe.

If you haven’t made you plans for the 2011 Indian Market yet, contact The Santa Fe Traveler. We can work last minute miracles. If you plan to come next year, we can arrange a memorable experience for you.

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4 Responses to “Santa Fe Indian Market celebrates 90th year”

  1. Vera Marie Badertscher
    August 16, 2019 at 10:23 am #

    That’s a great, succinct explanation of Indian Market. We were lucky to get an apartment near downtown through VRBO, and the price was not astronomical. But we did snag it several months ago.
    I don’t think I’ll even TRY to get into the better known restaurants. I think we’ll be eating in our room a lot.
    Hope to see you at Adobe Gallery on Thursday between 4 and 7 when Charnell and I meet folks and sign copies of our book about Quincy Tahoma. Always nice to meet on line friends in person.

    • Billie Frank
      August 18, 2019 at 7:57 am #

      Thanks for letting us know. We will try to be there to say hi. Would love to meet you. There are out of the way restaurants to eat at that won’t be as crowded- you just have to know how to find the, Stay away from the famous and somewhat famous. Some good take-out options, too. Just call WAAAY ahead.

  2. Lynn (NM Enchantment)
    August 16, 2019 at 2:25 pm #

    Wow! I had no idea the history behind the SF Indian Market. Thanks for sharing; I am passing it on to my readers.

    • Billie Frank
      August 18, 2019 at 7:59 am #

      There is so much history in New Mexico and much of it is fascinating (at least to me). Glad you enjoyed reading about it. Stay tuned to the blog- I promise lot of interesting NM bits and pieces as we go along.

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