Tickets to the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market sold out on Friday and Saturday, but shoppers and browsers can still squeeze in until 5 pm today. Be forewarned, you might have to grind elbow-to-elbow to get that last fantastic basket, doll or necklace in a cutthroat crowd. 

Check out some scenes from what's happened so far:

SFR Intern Ian MacMillian offers a dispatch from the scene earlier this weekend:

Among the best reasons to go the Folk Art Market is that artists seemed friendly, courteous and genuinely interested in telling me a little about themselves and their wares. They make browsing a remarkably pleasant experience. Unlike many open air markets where the salesmanship is overwhelming and aggressive, no one here gives you a reason to regret browsing. There is none of the hawking and unpleasant pressure that is to be expected in places like Shanghai, New Delhi or New York.

Crafts have something to offer for everyone and every budget, if you are patient. Tapestries, shawls and shirts of a vast variety of materials in every pattern and style adorn the booths. Jewelry is abundant. Beautiful silk scarves from India, tapestries from Nigeria and woven wall-hangings from Nepal are just a few of the textiles on display. Ceramics of all sorts, costing as little as $15 for a hand-painted Uzbek china, up to as much as $3,000 for an elaborate, iguana-lined vase.

But I have to come clean: I don't know much about folk art. I was impressed and I enjoyed soaking it all in. I even spent $50 on an intricate gourd mask from a good-tempered Uruguayan man. But what I most enjoyed about the market was the crowd-watching. Unlike the vendors, polite and helpful in every way, and the volunteers with the friendly but slightly harried look of people who have been directing a never-ending flow of people in the hot sun for six hours, the crowd is entertainingly self-absorbed.

In the big cities, casual rudeness is paired with the knowledge of how to effortlessly flit between people on a crowded sidewalk. In Santa Fe, though, there is no reason to develop this skill. As a result everyone is clogged constantly. At one point a man, anxious to reach the next booth before anyone around him, literally did the breast stroke with his arms to prevent anyone from getting in his way. One woman shoved her way through the
crowd with the determination of a linebacker, saying, "I'm sorry, I'm just trying to get through" to all the people who were in this human traffic jam because they didn't have any place they wanted to get to.

All this sounds exhausting, but it's worth it; for every thoughtless person muscling rudely through the crowd, there were a hundred harmless, interesting folks. My favorite was the woman who stalked through the crowd in turquoise and black cowboy boots, a flowing gown and, tucked under one arm like a football, a small dog that would not look out of place in the arms of a Bond villain were its fur not dyed hot pink.

So go to the folk art market to meet interesting people from foreign cultures, browse through exotic wares and get tumbled around a the thickest crowd of orthopedic-soled, straw-hat-wearing strangers you've ever seen.


  Open today until  5 pm

Youth 16 and under free