Old Taos Trade Fair: Where it all began

Event takes place Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 27-28) at la Hacienda de los Martínez, Lower Ranchitos


Do you want to get a glimpse of how life used to be in the late 1800s? The 27th annual Old Taos Trade Fair, planned Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 27-28) at la Hacienda de los Martínez, will provide a fun trip back in time. The celebration includes the presence of 46 vendors as well as music, dance, storytelling and plenty of food.

Doors open on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. The Gran Entrada and Opening of the Fair will take place at 10 a.m., with a welcome speech by Taos Mayor Dan Barrone and an invocation by Father Niggel Clement, Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, followed by a presentation of the Taos Fiestas Queen, Jenna Rose Louisa Amelia Peralta, and the Royal Court.

Other events for that day include Mountain Men Storytelling, Aztec Dancing with Tanya Vigil and her group Izcalli In Nanantzin, and Flamenco dance with Catalina Río Fernández.

The Wild Life Center of Española will bring parrots and reptiles. But there will be more animals — after all, they were an important part of peoples’ lives in the 19th century. Expect to see churro sheep, baby alpacas, donkeys and a horse.

Sunday events start at 10 a.m. There will be Mountain Men Storytelling, a one-man-band show with Archie Espinosa, and more music by Jimena Ballesteros, Mariachi Jaguar Encantado, and Life Support.

A tribute to the frontier life

The Old Taos Trade Fair pays tribute to the frontier life of the 1800s and the settlers of Northern New Mexico.

“The fair is actually a recreation of activities that people did in the 1800s, when la Hacienda de los Martínez was an active commercial center,” said Trade Fair Committee member Sande Hawley. “The mountain men would come in and trade with Severino Martínez, the father of Padre Martínez. They were fur trappers who hunted in the Rocky Mountains and came to Taos with pelts and hides to barter.”

During the Trade Fair, the Mountain Men will once again camp at the front of the hacienda, where they will ply their wares and retell old stories.

“In the 1800s all this area was still Mexican territory,” added Louisa Mylet, also a committee member and the hacienda manager. “Severino Martínez owned pack mules and horses that he used for his trade ventures with Chihuahua, Mexico, and after 1821, with the United States over the Santa Fe Trail. He would transport raw wool and blankets, rugs and processed animal hides, and would bring back iron, cotton, medicines, silk, books and manufactured wares that couldn’t be produced here.”

The vendors

Committee member Alexandra Rose went to Santa Fe Spanish Market and started recruiting vendors around two months ago. She first met Carlos Santistevan, a santero whose metal sculpture of Santo Niño de Atocha is owned by the Smithsonian Institution, and his nephew Frank Zamora, who makes retablos and crosses. Rose invited them to be part of the Trade Fair and then continued looking for other artists who were interested in participating.

“We all want to thank Alexandra for her hard work with the vendors,” said Mylet.

Marvin and Frances Martinez, from San Ildefonso Pueblo, are also attending. Marvin Martinez is the grandson of famed black-potter-maker Maria Martinez. He learned to make black-on-black pottery from his famous grandmother.

Other Spanish Market artists will offer retablos, bultos, handmade jewelry, and leatherworks.

Costumed craftsmen from Utah to New Mexico will sell cornhusk dolls, chokecherry jelly, and alpaca sweaters and hats. Connie Fernández will make demonstrations of colcha embroidery.

“Everyone on the committee has worked really hard and every year we strive to make the fair bigger and better,” said Chair Shirley Norton. “We also want to thank all our sponsors and the many wonderful people who made the 2014 Old Taos Trade Fair possible.”

Eating at the fair

The food will be provided by Mario Madrid of Cornmasters Concessions, who will offer burritos de chicharron, breakfast burritos, green chile quesadillas, calabacitas, buffalo burgers and roasted corn.

“Of course, we will also have freshly baked pies, tarts and cookies,” said Mylet. “La comida típica, the typical food from that time, is a key element of the celebration.”

Flowers Espinosa will make horno bread. Taos Valley honey, April Dunbar’s chai and Alexandra Rose’s award-winning baked goods will be available too.

“This is a unique chance for the people of Taos to experience living history, from food to folktales,” said Mylet. “The Trade Fair is a magical, colorful celebration and I hope to see many faces from our community. La Hacienda de los Martinez will welcome all of you.”

Admission is $5 a day or both days for $8. Free for children 6 and under. Martinez Hacienda is located at 708 Hacienda Road, off Lower Ranchitos Road, southwest of Taos Plaza. For more information, call (575) 758-1000.