I just got back from the 2015 International Folk Art market in Santa Fe New Mexico. If you're like me, you search the internet for insider tips on what to do when going to someplace new. While sitting in the airport for days because of flight delays forcing an extra over night stay.Who knew NM had a monsoon season! I was able to jot down some helpful tips while things were still fresh in my mind.
1) I did the early bird (ticket was $75) which was a good idea. The market gets packed along with getting hot - not a good combo. That extra 2 hours makes a big difference. There is a Friday night event ($200) if you really want to make sure you get to the good stuff before anyone else. Plan to be there late (11:00 pm?), because the check out will take a long time.
2) Get your hands on a program ahead of time. I was told it was in the local paper on Wednesday. We weren't able to find one, so we went in blind. It's helpful if there is something specific you want to see. The artists are all mixed together, so if you like Mexican art you have to know where that artist is.
3) Sun screen and a hat is a must. All the vendors are under tents but you do spend a lot of time in the sun walking from section to section.
4) If you see something you like, buy it! Don't even think you will go back to get it. In less than two hours the place will be packed tighter than a can of sardines!
5) The artists are on the inside of the tents and their handlers were on the outside - volunteers who help the artists handle their sales.
6) When you want to buy something you take it to the volunteers opposite the artist's booth. They will write a receipt (triplicate copies) and bag the item to keep there until you've paid.
7) You take the receipt up to the central cashiers (they are located at the end of each section) and pay for the item,then go back to the artist to pick it up. I found walking along the outside of the tents behind the volunteers made it easier to pick up my stuff.
8) I also found it faster to pay for everything I wanted in one section before going on the next one. This year there was a 3 hour time limit to pick up your stuff other wise it was put back out. Doing it our way, we were able to get through the whole place under 3 hours. Yes you will have a lot of credit card charges but it's worth it, trust me!
9) They have write your name on your receipt so I started using a easy name to spell "Smith" which saved a lot of time.
Since they file everything they bag by your last name, use an easy to spell last name that starts with "A" or "Z". The volunteers will be able to find your bag faster. Always give them your correct cell phone number. They had to call us on one item they forgot to list the price on the receipt.
10) Bathrooms in the museums are much nicer than the portapottys. The Mexican museum bathrooms up the hill wasn't too busy.
11)Remember everyone working there is a volunteer so be patience. All the volunteers were very happy and always had a smile on their faces.
12) This isn't a market where your going to find any "deals". All the items are at current US retail prices, if not higher but 90% is going directly to the artists, which I liked. If you had a chance to read the program a head of time, you will know what the money is supporting and how.
13) I would skip eating lunch there, the food was just OK. At lunch time the lines got crazy long and again you're standing out in the full sun.
14) Be prepared to stand in the sun for a long time waiting for the shuttle bus to take you back.
15) This is no place for young children, strollers or husbands who don't really want to be there. It's a very safe place to shop. I believe there is a sitting area for the husbands to sit. If you really have to bring you children, Sunday is family day it's not as crowded and it's cheaper to get in.
16) I was told on Sunday afternoon, things may get marked down but I would guess it's only the big bulky items.
I think you would find it fun and interesting if you haven't traveled much around the world. Seeing everything in one place if great! I also like mission of this group and the artists they're helping.