Santa Fe’s International Folk Art Market

In mid-July every year, since 2004, Santa Fe becomes a bit of an international bazaar; you’ll see people in colorful native dress on the streets, in the aisles at Whole Foods Market and on the Plaza.. “Ah,” you think. “it must be time for the International Folk Art Market.” Catalyzed by a small folk art exhibition, Focus Folk Art, held by Market co-founder Judy Espinar at her now closed shop, The Clay Angel, the annual event is now the largest market of its kind in the world.

Santa Fe Art: Santa Fe International Folk Art Market entrance photo Steve Collins

Arriving at the Market photo/Steve Collins

People flock to the event on Museum Hill both Saturday and Sunday (the 2012 Market is the 14th and 15th) and it can be a bit of a madhouse. If you want to visit the market early and beat the crowds, buy a ticket to the Friday night MARKET OPENING PARTY: A global gathering under the stars. This market preview event, held on Museum Hill, runs from 6:30 to 9pm. Tickets sales are limited so it’s a more leisurely way to enjoy the show. It’s an opportunity to and talk to the artists when they have more time to interact, peruse the hand-crafted wares from over 150 artisans from around the world, nibble on hors d’œuvres, have a glass of wine, listen to international music, dance and best of al: shop early. There’s also a lot of people-watching to indulge in, including the occasional famous face passing by.

Santa Fe art: Costumes and masks at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market photo Steve Collins

Jaime Zayas Medina of Puerto Rico’s prize-winning Papiermâché Vejigante Mask photo/Steve Collins

The 2012 opening night theme is REDefine What Matters. And the word is, RED. According to Mike Mullins, the Market’s Director of Ambiance, “We’re really going red, redder, and reddest. Rouge, fuchsia, hot pink—every shade you can imagine.” You can read the entire interview with him. To go with this theme, the evening’s signature drinks will be Sangria and Tecate beer; it’s international and it comes in a RED can. These and both RED and white wine are complimentary. If you prefer a something stronger, there will be specialty cocktails including margaritas available for $7. The popular local eatery, Cowgirl will offer four food stations: International Grill Fest: braised yak meatballs, jerk chicken satays, brats, and pork tenderloin with tomato jam.
EuroChic: goat cheese torta, smoked salmon platter, caprese sticks and tortellini skewers.
Pan Asian: coconut shrimp, veggie pot stickers, kalua pork, pineapple skewers
Desserts: chocolate chile cake, chocolate covered strawberries, Mexican wedding cookies, lemon squares, chocolate chip cookies and glazed brownies.

While people who board the early buses line up for the  6:30 opening, they’ll be served refreshing watermelon and cool water to beat the heat.

Santa Fe art

Drum-maker (and drummer) Akeem Ayanniyi from Nigeria, photo/Steve Collins

A few tips if you go:
Parking and buses: There is NO parking on Museum Hill for attendees. Free Shuttle buses run from both the PERA parking lot on Old Santa Fe Trail (at Paseo de Peralta) and the South Capital Rail Runner Station on Cordova Road between Cerrillos Road and St. Francis Drive. Go early. We were fashionably late and there were no close parking spaces left at the PERA lot. We had to waste valuable time driving to the South Capital location. This is not a proven fact, but it seemed there were a lot less cars at the station and it may be easier to get on a bus here

Shopping strategy: Shop first and eat and listen to music later. Again, you don’t want to miss that treasure. If you see it and love it, grab it. Some of what’s on display and sale is one of a kind. There are serious collectors in this early group and they aren’t going to walk around thinking about if they should buy something, they’re going to grab it. When you go back for it after thinking about it for a while, it may be gone.

Payment strategy: Payment is made at a central station. Do all your shopping and then enjoy the party. Look for a lull in the line and take advantage of it to pay. The people taking money are fast and the line moves fairly quickly. After you pay, enjoy the food and drink until you’re ready to go and pick up your purchases on the way out. You won’t have to worry about losing or dropping your bounty.

Bring sunscreen and a hat: The sun can still be pretty fierce when people line up for entry and at the beginning of the market. Wear sunscreen and a hat and either bring or take advantage of the free water offered on site.

Details for the 2012 Market:

Friday’s opening event: Admission to The MARKET OPENING PARTY A global gathering under the stars which runs from 6:30 to 9pm on Friday is, $125 ($75 is tax deductible). Buy your tickets early; only 2,000 tickets will be sold and it’s expected to sell out.

When: Saturday and Sunday July 14th and 15th from 9am to 5pm.(The Market Opening Night event is on Friday, July 13th.)

If you want to avoid the crowds and can’t make the preview event, there’s Early Bird shopping on Saturday from 7:30 to 9am. Tickets which include all day admission to the Market on Saturday are $50 ($25 is tax deductible).

Parking and buses: There is no parking available on Museum Hill. Shuttle buses will run from both locations mentioned above. The Market’s website has full information.

General Admission: Saturday tickets are $15 in advance $20 day of event. Sunday, Family Day, tickets are $5 in advance, $10 day of event

All tickets can be purchased on their website.

Here’s a schedule of events for what is dubbed International Folk Arts Week,  July 7th  through 15th including the  kick-off party at Santa Fe’s Railyard Park, Thursday evening, July 12th from 5 to 9pm. There will be a concert, international food, the Annual Market Artists Procession and more. The event is free and open to the public.

Visit the International Folk Art Markets’ website for complete Market information.

Author’s note: If you’re interested, you can read the story of how the International Folk Art Market got started.,

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6 Responses to “Santa Fe’s International Folk Art Market”

  1. Payje
    June 18, 2019 at 1:39 pm #

    This looks so awesome! I can’t believe I missed this when we lived there, I am a sucker for folk art! Of all kinds… the more colorful the better! Folk art here in AK is pretty cool too, but I do miss the colors. I bet you guys had a great time…
    Payje recently posted..Through the Yukon: Haines JunctionMy Profile

    • Billie Frank
      June 18, 2019 at 5:16 pm #

      I love folk art, too. There must be some great art in Alaska from the native peoples up there.

  2. barbara storper
    July 8, 2019 at 9:45 pm #

    Thanks so much for the info. Get to be here for two months, switching houses with a Santa Fe resident, and am so excited to be here during the folk art festival.

    • Billie Frank
      July 9, 2019 at 7:06 am #

      I hope the Folk Art market is on your Santa Fe agenda. Santa Fe Travelers is a great resource for you, especially our Tuesday feature Tidbits which has area news and upcoming events. Coming up is NM Jazz Festival, Spanish and Indian Markets and more. Enjoy our beautiful city!

  3. Leslie
    July 12, 2019 at 7:03 am #

    This looks like fun! Have to visit Santa Fe and check this out :)
    Leslie recently posted..PHOTOS: Road tripping on Utahs Scenic Byway 12My Profile

    • Billie Frank
      July 12, 2019 at 7:07 am #

      It’s a wonderful event. We get people from all over the world. We were in the car yesterday and saw a tall man in African dress walking down the street. It brings all different cultures to town for a week.

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