Live music, local food vendors, and vivid art can all be found under one roof in Albuquerque each fall.
Now ranked 6th in the nation, the annual Rio Grande Arts and Crafts Festival draws a crowd of 25,000 people and hosts 200 artisans from around the country.
With famous artists like Georgia O’Keefe blossoming from the sandy roots of New Mexico, the state has made a name for itself in the world of fine art.
“It’s the best show to come to, period. There’s lots of variety and I just love it,” said former 84-year-old artist BJ Miller who attends each year.
Submissions begin in January the winter prior to the show and drive fierce competition for a slot in the coveted Big White Tent. The jury makes their final decision for which artists are awarded a spot in the October show by April 1st.
The artists range from wood carvers to accessory designers and each of them have their own motivation for their creations.
“This is a good venue, it’s got lots of interesting folks, and a good showing. It’s wonderful to come out to the shows after working on your art and have feedback from other artists,” said Gary Burkeart.
This is the second year his pieces have been in the show and he enjoys the liveliness the festival brings.
Director Ruth Gore has been running the show since it began and has grown it from an unknown event in a dirt field to the renowned tourist attraction it is today.
The crowds from the Balloon Fiesta come over to continue their unique vacation or family weekend and Ruth makes sure everyone has a great time.
“We want a happy energetic vibe, so in the mornings we have a mariachi band playing in the front, just to get everybody perked up and having fun,” she said.
The show has been running in Albuquerque for 29 years and has made a name of itself nationwide.
Attendees of all ages will find something that strikes their fancy as sections at the festival include a culinary tent with local and regional artisans, fair style food, musical entertainment, an indoor bar, and a children’s crafts section to keep little ones involved and occupied.
The Rio Grande Arts and Crafts Festival has another show in the spring when Albuquerque has an influx of tourists and again in November just before the holiday season.
Artist Cindy Grisdale traveled from Reston, Virginia to show her work in the October festival and said she’s happy to participate in such a competitive show.
Of the festival itself she said, “There’s high quality artists from all over the country that you might not be able to see in any other venue, and it’s a great opportunity to see some amazing art.”
Vendors, entertainers, and artists alike continue to return to the show for the exposure and sales it provides to them.
The Holiday show will be held this year on the 24th, 25th, and 26th of November and is sure to bring the same quality of fun and entertainment as the October show thanks to the highly trained staff, and carefully selected artisans.
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