Passports, collectibles, dance and food
“I got Afghanistan! Now we just need Myanmar, Ukraine and Sudan.” “Wait — I still need to go to Pakistan.” “It’s back here. C’mon!”
This was my 8-year-old and her friend at last year’s International Folk Art Market. They were filling up their market “passports” with flag stickers from six continents, enjoying a morning’s worth of globe-trotting right here in Santa Fe.
The market’s free Children’s Passport Project is an ingenious way for kids to experience a taste of the wide world. On Sunday, July 13, which is Family Day, kids pick up their passports near the market entrance and then make the rounds of artisans. Child-friendly volunteers, also known as the Red Apron Brigade, apply flag-stickers to each passport, offering bits of information about the countries at each station. Depending on the kids, the sticker collecting can be a cooperative adventure or a competitive race for the colorful badge that says, “I have traveled the world at the International Folk Art Market/Santa Fe.”
Whatever the motivation, the Passport Project is fun, and it encourages kids to view the artwork, meet the artists and learn about the art-making process. When kids take the time to ask artisans about interesting pieces, brief but real connections can be made with people who at first seemed so different, and who now, sharing a smile and perhaps a few words, have become a little more familiar.
Young art collectors can choose from a number of affordable items at the market. Ghana’s Ebenezer Djaba Nomoda makes beautiful recycled glass beads and then fashions them into jewelry. Erkebu Djumagulova and Maitasheva Aida, both textile artists from Kyrgyzstan, create felt dolls and animals. The Ambiance and UNESCO booths both stock colorful, fun and inexpensive handmade items, including Balinese kites, Haitian papier-mâché masks and Mexican teresita (paper flower) crowns.
Joyous family time
International Folk Art Market is a great opportunity for some joyous family time. Children love the festive atmosphere, and parents, drained by the day-to-day work of managing family life, have a chance to refill the well. Everywhere you go there is color and beauty. Live music fills the air. We had glorious blue-sky weather at last year’s market and found plenty of shade when we needed it. After filling our eyes with such treasures as gorgeous pottery from Uzbekistan and mind-bendingly intricate Peruvian gourd carvings, we feasted on vegetarian dosas and fresh drinks made from mango and watermelon.
Your family may be surprised by a dramatic lion dance, as we were. Right next to us on the walkway was a sudden explosion of energy, swirling color and heart-pounding percussion: it was the marvelous Albuquerque-based Vietnamese group, Quang Minh Buddhist Youth Lion Dance Team. Toward the end of their brief but exciting performance, the group dared kids to engage with the powerful lion. Only the bravest jumped in at first, and then, little by little, so did everyone else. This year’s lion dance is scheduled for Sunday from 12-12:15 p.m. Don’t miss it!
Kris Ota, a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, is a writer, editor and copy editor for The Santa Fe New Mexican. She lives and learns with her family in Northern New Mexico.