For the first two cool hours, about 1,000 people who paid extra for early bird tickets were allowed to peruse the market with plenty of elbow room and access to some 150 folk artists from around the world who displayed their wares.
After that, the crowds came in earnest as about 9,000 more people -- ticket sales were capped at 10,000 and sold out for Saturday -- flowed through the gates to marvel at textiles, ceramics, metal work, paintings, papier-mache, embroidery, bead work, woodwork and more.
The event was a people-watcher's paradise, with both artists and attendees decked out in their finest wearable folk art. Women carrying parasols embroidered with mirrors, wearing bespangled broomstick skirts, draped with strands of beads and semi-precious stones and carrying satchels made of mud cloth paused to take each others photos under a festive walkway festooned with faux marigold garlands.
As the crowds became thicker and the day became hotter, the sights and sounds of the market combined to create an atmosphere that was evocative of a bustling souk from a far off land.
Many of the artists represented at the market come from countries where people survive on about
Attendees were pampered with free paper cones of cold water, stands full of umbrellas to keep the sun (and later the rain) off, and about a dozen food booths selling everything from gourmet doughnuts to goat stew. At midday, volunteers passed out sack lunches to artists. They wore placards around their necks with pictures of the sandwich choices -- roast beef, chicken/turkey, cheese, hummus -- to help bridge the language barrier.
"Hello, we can't do anything about the crowds, but we're glad you're here," chirped one of dozens of volunteers, some of whom seemed to be charged solely with greeting people.
In the stalls, artists from around the world posed for pictures and demonstrated their crafts. For some it was their first market, others, who have been coming to the market for years, reconnected with friends and customers.
In stall No. 18,
"I didn't let her bring him, otherwise he would have been miserable and she wouldn't have been able to work," said
Reiche said the market has revived the gauze-weaving art which was dying out in Gue's village because locals there couldn't afford the delicate hand-embroidered garments and began buying clothing made from machine-made lace instead.
Gue said it takes two-to-three months to complete one of the blouses, which she was selling at the market for
A few booths down, Edmond Randrianarisoa of
Elsewhere, marketers tried on gigantic animal-themed papier-mache masks made in
The couple said they had wanted to try
"He said, 'Ill recognize the building,' "
Her purchases for the day included a yard of handwoven velvet from
"I won't wear it," she said. "I'll hang it on the wall. It was
Hertel said she didn't have any numbers for Saturday yet, but said about
Hertel said 90 percent of sale proceeds go directly to artists, while 10 percent is used to defray costs associated with the market, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year.
The market continues Sunday with admission reduced to
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