The world’s largest folk art market belongs to Santa Fe.

¡Qué Santa Fe!

Welcoming Back Santa Fe’s International Folk Art Market

by Lynn Cline

The market that has captivated the world has returned with its spirit and wonder intact.

Santa Fe’s International Folk Art Market (IFAM) is not just the world’s largest folk art market, it’s a living pageantry of color, culture and craftsmanship that you won’t experience anywhere else. Whether you’re an avid folk art collector or a first-time visitor, you’ll marvel at this extraordinary shopping odyssey, which takes you around the world without having to make a single connecting flight.

Founded in 2004, the market annually brings more than one hundred master folk artists from some sixty countries — Afghanistan to Zimbabwe — to showcase their dazzling work, including jewelry, ceramics, paintings, wearable art and so much more. Last year, IFAM took a pandemic pause but this summer will return July 7–18, albeit with some adjustments for a safe experience in a COVID world.

“We’re going to plan the market over two weekends, starting on Wednesday night and going to Sunday, and then we’ll reset Monday and Tuesday and bring different artists for the second weekend,” says Stuart Ashman, IFAM’s CEO. “We’ll have forty to fifty artists each weekend, and we’re going to sell timed-entry tickets — 200 tickets for every two hours— so that you can shop for two hours.”

The Plaza on Museum Hill becomes a world market celebration.
The many colors of IFAM. Photo: Albuquerque Journal

The same heart and soul

Despite the downsizing, the heart and soul of the International Folk Art Market will shine on, from the warm exchanges between artists and shoppers to the dedication of the hard-working volunteers. The proceeds from shoppers’ treasured purchases contribute to the well-being of the artists and their communities.

These contributions are not inconsequential. Ashman calls IFAM an incredibly important event that generates more than $2 million annually for artists around the globe. Since the market began, artists have earned more than $34 million, resulting in self-empowerment, economic enhancement and social benefits for themselves and for more than one million people in their communities.

It’s not surprising that IFAM has captivated the world. Every year, shoppers travel from other states and countries to Milner Plaza on Museum Hill to take part in this unique and uplifting event that has garnered attention from prominent media. “It’s like few other places in the world because it’s the world gathered all in one place,” said a correspondent in a segment aired on CBS Sunday Morning.

Ashman joins folk art fans in anticipating this year’s market, stating in a press release, “We are excited for the return of our signature event, and we feel with the changes in place, the event will be dynamic, comfortable, safe and unforgettable. We look forward to welcoming everyone back.”

Lynn Cline

Lynn Cline is the author of The Maverick Cookbook: Iconic Recipes & Tales from New Mexico. She has written for The New York TimesBon Appétít and numerous other publications. She also hosts Cline’s Corner, a weekly radio show on KSFR 101.1 FM.


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