Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, 2011 | - July 7, 2011

Kids key to getting most out of market

If you’ve lived in Santa Fe long enough to debate whether you should go to the International Folk Art Market this month, then you know the quandary. On the one hand, it’s going to be hot as hell over there on Museum Hill. And you’re either going to have to park at a friend’s and hoof it over, or park at the PERA Building and take one of those free shuttles, like the thousands of other tourists. (Some 22,000 attended last year.)

On the other hand, it is one Santa Fe’s best events, right alongside the 4th of July Pancake Breakast on the Plaza, Zozobra, and the farolito walk on Christmas Eve. Why? Because:

1) Like those events, you don’t actually have to spend a lot of money to enjoy it. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. You don’t even have to shop at the Folk Art Market. You can just treat it like one big outdoor museum show.

2) You can actually get to the artists, literally, to have a conversation because the market staff has wisely separated the selection process from the purchasing process. You shop at the booth, but pay at separate payment booths. That prevents a lot of the bottleneck problems of, say, Indian Market, from happening at the artists’ booths.

3) When you get tired of it all – whether you’re shopping or just rubbernecking the booths – there’s some amazing food at the Folk Art Market, from West African to brick oven pizza. So no matter what you’re in the mood for, it’s probably there.

4) You can’t beat the decorations at this market. The staff breaks its own bar every year, combining decorations from all the previous years into something new and imaginative, as well as bringing in new ideas.

This year it’s paper galore from Mexico: hundreds of white paper doves to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps, and canopies of oversized paper flowers, some up to 4-feet wide.

Artist Shelley Horton-Trippe and musician Scott Ardis are supervising a team of local high school students for this year’s decorations. “I love that mixed metaphor of all kinds of Mexican paper stuff and Chinese lanterns and umbrellas and African textiles all combined into this amazing mass of googah,” Horton-Trippe said. “It definitely has the feel of getting ready for a circus.”

All that said, however, we figured there must be a way to have a kindler, gentler experience at the Folk Art Market, and we found it … on the Sunday afternoon (the last day) of the Folk Art Market. It’s a bit similar to Indian Market, when all the crazy shoppers have departed and many of the artists drop their prices: There’s actually room to take in the sights and talk to the artists.

But what’s different about the Folk Art Market on Sundays is the kid aspect. David Moore, a web consultant for the market, explained how Sundays work there. He knows because he likes to go with his daughter, Fionnuala, 6. “They give the kids a kind of passport book to collect stickers and they go around to collect sticker flags from the different countries.” Moore said sometimes the volunteers at the various booths hand out the stickers, “but just as often it’s the artists themselves.”

In case you can’t read between the lines, our advice: Find yourself a kid, if you don’t have one, and take him or her to the Folk Art Market. (Kids 16 and under are free.) “Having the kids there is a great way to break the ice with the artists,” as Moore explained. “It’s a way for the whole family to talk with the artists.”

Not that you have to do the whole passport plan. Anne Wrinkle, director of external affairs at Site Santa Fe, likes to take her kids on Sundays, Jack, 8, and Annie, 6, just because it’s a little tamer. “It’s just easier to maneuver, less of a mob scene and more spread out,” Wrinkle said. “You get a little more face time if you choose to.”

If you’re not zeroing in on certain folk art you absolutely have to have, Wrinkle said, “You can sort of relax and pick up things that are more mementos and Christmas tree ornaments.” In her work at Site Santa Fe, Wrinkle is no stranger to the difficulties of putting on events and said, “It’s one of the most unusual extraordinary things anywhere … I’m in awe of the organizational skills involved to
make this happen.”

The ninth annual Santa Fe International Folk Art Market starts Thursday, July 7, 6:15-9 p.m. with a new community-wide celebration at the Santa Fe Railyard. A special opening party for the market at Milner Plaza on Museum Hill is scheduled for the next evening, Friday, July 8, 6:30-9 p.m., with dancing, international music, food and drink, not to mention early shopping ($125 a person). The two-day market officially opens with early bird hours, 7:30-9 a.m. , Saturday, July 9 ($50, which includes the rest of the day) and regular market hours from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. ($15 advance, $20 at the gate). The last day of market, Sunday, July 10 is Family Day with lower enrance fees ($5 advance, $10 at the gate). Youngsters 16 and under are free Saturday and Sunday.