Weekend fair in Santa Fe displays American Indian art, literature

Compiled by Kevin Wilson: Freedom Newspapers

Editor’s note: Day Trips suggests options for family outings that can be completed in a day from the Clovis-Portales area. The opinions expressed in the reviews are strictly those of the writer.

In the 1920s, Santa Fe residents first held an Indian art fair at the Santa Fe Armory. Over the years, the fair and its supporting organization have morphed into the current Santa Fe Indian Market.

The outdoor event, which happens next weekend, fills the downtown area of Santa Fe with American Indian art, literature, music and food.

The fair was sponsored for many years by the New Mexico Organization on Indian Affairs, which also worked on land and water rights. By the 1980s, the organization concentrated on arts and was renamed the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA).

Where is it:
The annual event is in Santa Fe, about 220 miles from the Clovis/Portales area. Saturday’s fair opens at 7 a.m. and Sunday’s fair at 8 a.m., with both closing at 5 p.m. Travelers should plan a four-hour drive to Santa Fe, and possibly 15-30 minutes to get to the market itself.

Which day would make the best trip?
Sunday may be the best day for a family to go, given the schedule. Sunday’s events begin at 8 a.m., as opposed to 7 a.m. on Saturday, and includes a Native American clothing contest from 9 a.m. to noon.

Saturday’s main event is the Indian Market Gala Auction. The event, which is already sold out, includes celebrities and artists looking to collect art. Those signs point to a casual visitor being priced out.

How to get there:
From Interstate 25, take exit No. 282 onto St. Francis Drive. Go north until you hit West Alameda and take a right. Drive until you hit Sandoval and take a left. Once on Sandoval, taking a right on either San Franciso or Palace will eventually take you to the Santa Fe plaza. During the market, the plaza and many surrounding streets are closed to all but foot traffic.

A park and ride option is also available, with details at the association’s Web site.

What to expect:
Art is sold by many of the vendors, but you probably won’t be able to afford everything on display. Stacy Golar, a development associate for the SWAIA, said art ranges from $30 earrings to other pieces priced at $100,000.

The association rents the plaza area from the city for the weekend, and the market stretches over about eight city blocks. The art displays aren’t limited to the plaza area, as various local art galleries throughout the city do small events to coincide with the weekend.

Something different:
The food vendors at the event provide food items that aren’t standard options at local restaurants. Navajo bluecorn pancakes, mutton sandwiches and squash stew are among the many items that have previously been offered by vendors.

You might not like:
The crowds. The event attracts more than 650 booths and 1,100 artists, and average attendance is estimated at 80,000.

Also, there will be a lot of walking. The association recommends those visiting the market to bring good shoes and lots of sunscreen and water.

More information:
Contact SWAIA at 505-983-5220
The Web site is: www.swaia.org/market.php

Sources: The Web site and interviews with SWAIA staff.