By Arnie Leshin
Tradition is just that in Santa Fe. It’s a common thing that applies to many events, including the summer Spanish Market and Indian Market.
But not this year, not when the worldwide COVID-19 (cornavirus) has cancelled out many traditional events not just in the United States but around the globe. And here in theCity Different, it spread to the two biggest weekend events that draw the largest crowds. Yes, the Spanish Market and Indian Market will be shut down. After the recent back-to-back announcements, the Indian Market officials said it was moving its 99th market to 2021.
That was Saturday. On Monday, the Spanish Market, which describes itself as the oldest and largest of its kind in the USA, began in 1926 with 11 artists. It has filled the Plaza every year since moving to that site in 1965, and has taken place every year since 1951.
Artist Joe Labato said, “The decision to postpone this year’s Spanish Market is not an easy one, however when artists, their families and the general public’s safety is foremost the concern, there is only one decision to be made, and that means to postpone this year’s market.”
Also on Monday, the board of directors at the International Folk Art Market met to talk about the situation. In early March, this year’s event had lined up 160 artists from 52 countries scheduled to participate, but that was postponed. Now it’s up in the air, cancel or hang around hopeful that the spread of this mysterious virus slows down so that the usual big turnouts can attend. But to hope is normal, to have it happen is maybe too much to ask.
Randy Randell, executive of Tourism Santa Fe, said that Indian Market and Spanish Market are working to stage a virtual event of some kind, but added that he realizes the pandemic’s effect on events is undeniable and might deny this.
“I find that people are most concerned about (continued) restrictions in respect to crowds,” he said. “I also believe that tourism will be back in the summer, but there may still be group-size limitations. But if travel gets a green light, people will come to Santa Fe.”
He might be right, people could be looking for a place to rejuvenate, and if it’s a pretty decent summer, there may be a different group of visitors.
The Santa Fe Opera and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, both with scheduled July starts, are still moving ahead with their summer season, as are many other opera and symphonic festivals set in July around the country.
Santa Fe Opera officials noted that regarding the postponements of the Spanish and Indian Markets, while largely unfortunate, doesn’t influence their present plans. Their season runs from July 3 to Aug. 29, and they feel it is still too soon to predict the future of its 2020 season, and they are hoping that over the course of the next month there will be greater clarity about the pandemic’s impact on public gatherings and travel in July and August.
The Chamber Music Festival intends to have the writing done for its program book at the end of April. It is scheduled for July 19 to Aug. 24, and performing artists don’t typically don’t start arriving in Santa Fe until a week prior to the festival.
The three summer markets and the festivals attract large numbers to Santa Fe, with teething crowds that pack hotels, motels, and restaurants. Southwest Planning & Marketing determined that Indian Market visitors spent $49.8 million in Santa Fe, excluding market purchases, and the numbers for the Spanish Market are similar. The Folk Art Market generated $13.7 million in total economic impact.
These are giant numbers, but this year will need heart and hope.