Festivals take shape in many forms.
Whether centered around the onset of a new year, food, music, religion, or ancestry, festivals share a profound commonality in their ability to bring people together, the young and old, spiritual and secular, rich and poor, local and foreign.
Festivals often showcase the traditions, values and practices of a particular community. For the traveler, this sets a unique stage for learning about a place, about people and their particular culture.
The International Folk Art Market (IFAM) showcases the power of bringing people together. Started in 2004, the festival is held over a three-day period in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Every July, thousands gather to shop, learn about, and marvel at the beauty of folk art. More than 150 artisans from 60 different countries gather in this gorgeous desert environment to showcase their craft. Folk artists, who are often marginalized in their own communities, are celebrated here. IFAM offers them a respected position in the global marketplace and provides them with a showcase where they can gather, share their handmade traditions, and develop economic, social, and individual empowerment.
The impact of this festival is far reaching. 20,000 visitors attend the event, purchasing upwards of $3 million in folk art. Since 2004, the earnings have exceeded $34 million dollars and impacted more than one million lives in the communities represented. Attendees return home not only with beautiful handmade goods but also with an understanding about the importance and impact of these crafts in their native communities.
On average, each booth generates $20,000 in sales which return back to the artisans. More often than not, the income helps sustain entire communities. When artisans return home, wells, bridges, and schools are built. The beauty of the handcrafted products, the faces of hope, the stories of individual passion and commitment celebrate our common humanity and make for a truly transformative and immensely unique experience.
Santa Fe, New Mexico is the perfect setting for this market. Situated at 7,000 feet in the foothills of the southern Rocky Mountains, Santa Fe the highest capital and second oldest city in the United States. In 2005, Santa Fe became the first U.S. city to be chosen by UNESCO as a Creative City, one of only nine cities in the world to hold this designation. This creativity is at the heart of the community and is a core value for most local businesses. The city has captivated many great artists for centuries.
You may fly in and out of Santa Fe Regional Airport or through Albuquerque, which is just a 1-hour drive.
The market is held just outside of downtown Santa Fe, with free shuttles run back and forth.
The Inn at Five Graces, set in one of Santa Fe’s most historic neighborhoods. Designers Ira and Sylvia Seret, internationally-known importers of exotic antiques, rugs, textiles and architectural elements, transformed a neglected cluster of traditional adobe buildings into a unique hotel. The name, “Five Graces”, refers to an Eastern concept — the five graces of sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Each needs to be honored in the full experience of life, an idea will be reflected during your stay through excellent service, cuisine, and comfort.
In addition to the celebrations of the festival, travelers also have the opportunity to experience the many fruits of Santa Fe. It is a hot, dry and original city full of rich history and culture. Sometimes, the unplanned moments during a journey are some of the most memorable. It is the evening stroll around town, the delicious hole-in-wall mom and pop joint with best mole you’ve ever tasted, or the galleries and shops that you just happen upon. Santa Fe is a place where loading up your itinerary would be a grave mistake.
Downtown Santa Fe is captivating with many museums, shops, daily craft markets, galleries and restaurants. Easy day trips take you to ancient dwellings and still-inhabited Pueblos with opportunities to learn about the area’s rich culture and history. For the outdoor enthusiasts, acres of pristine wilderness in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains await just outside of the city. There are miles of hiking and biking trails, rafting experiences down the Rio Grande, hot air ballooning over The Ravines and ski trails open during colder months.
New Mexican takes a new spin on traditional Mexican cuisine. The State uses of local spices, herbs and flavors, most notably their red and green chilli peppers. The New Mexico official state question is “red or green?” which refers to the choice between which sauce will accompany your entrée. In an effort to solve this impossible dilemma, residents resassigned a new meaning to the term “Christmas” in the 1980s, now signaling a request for BOTH sauces.
You will leave New Mexico with a greater understanding and appreciation of folk-art, a newfound love for Santa Fe, and a very full and satisfied tummy.