SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The International Folk Art Market is headed for another banner year, and dozens of artisans — many from developing countries — are reaping the benefits as they work to start their own businesses and improve their communities.
Now in its 12th year, the three-day market entered its final stretch Sunday.
Thousands of people crowded onto Santa Fe's Museum Hill to browse the booths of more than 150 artists from around the globe. Up for sale: everything from hand-woven baskets and intricately carved gourds to rugs made of recycled clothes and ceramics glazed using centuries-old techniques.
Organizers say more than $700,000 in art was sold in less than four hours during the first night, a 12 percent increase over 2014.
"It's wonderful," market co-founder Judy Espinar said Saturday afternoon as she looked across the crowd. "It's nice to hear people are enjoying it, as we work so hard to make it happen."
Espinar said the market has evolved into a tool for artists to better their lives and their communities and for others to learn more about people from other parts of the world.
The market has involved about 750 folk artists from more than 90 countries since its inception, and sales have totaled $21 million over the last decade. Last year alone, sales topped $3 million for the weekend, and artists took home 90 percent of that.
Organizers say one weekend of selling their wares in Santa Fe can provide the folk artists the means to make serious changes at home — from financing the building of schools and health clinics to buying months' worth of food for more than 500 people in nearby villages.
With back-to-back, sellout events this year, market spokeswoman Clare Hertel said the market is on track to surpass last year's record sales.