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Posts Tagged ‘Fairs’

If it’s the end of January into the beginning of February, it must be time for the Feria del Carrizo in San Juan Guelavía.  About twenty minutes east of the city, this village was known for their beautiful and functional baskets hand-woven from carrizo (Arundo donax, Spanish cane, Giant cane, Wild Cane, and Colorado River weed), a tall perennial cane that grows along river banks. p1240717

These baskets have traditionally been used as carriers and storage bins since before the Spanish set foot on the soil that became Mexico.  However, their popularity and demand took a nosedive, along with the economy of San Juan Guelavía, upon the arrival of plastic baskets.  The answer, in 2012, was to promote these artisans, their wares, and their creativity with a fair.  Several days preceding Sunday’s inauguration of the 6th annual fair and sale, there were misas (masses), parades, and fireworks.

As with all festivals and fairs in Oaxaca, there are folkloric dance performances.

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And, artfully positioned decorations adorning walls and gates and hanging from the ceiling.p1240705

There is barbacoa and tortillas hot off the comal.p1240697

And, impossibly adorable children carrying on traditions.p1240738

The fair was in full swing when we arrived in late morning (note to self, get there earlier next year) with carrizo woven baskets, birdcages, bottles, and baby cradles piled high.p1240718So many choices…  Is it too early to begin Christmas shopping?p1240715I kept my eye out for Teresa, who made beautiful lampshades for me two years ago.  However, it wasn’t easy as there were so many people coming and going and crowded around all of the vendor tables.p1240706
It took a while but, on the second pass around, I finally found her and her delightful family.  There was much handshaking, cheek kissing, and catching up.p1240714And, more than a little laughter about her fowl friend, who was keeping watch under the table.p1240712

Another wonderful, warm, and welcoming day in one of the villages in the valley of Oaxaca.  The fair continues this week with a 4-day jaripeo (rodeo) and closes on February 5, so you still have time!  Never fear, if you miss it, these carrizo treasures can often be found at the weekly Sunday market in Tlacolula de Matamoros.

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Because last year’s fair was so much fun and I’m still loving my lampshades, blogger buddy Chris and I returned to San Juan Guelavia yesterday for the 5th Feria del Carrizo.  Upon arriving, our first surprise was being directed to a dirt estacionamiento (one of my favorite words, means parking lot) next to, what looked to be, a rodeo arena.  It was quickly followed by surprise number two:  The plaza crowded with people — at least ten times the number as last year!  Aside from two friends who were leaving (arms filled with purchases), we didn’t see many extranjeros.  However, we ran into several friends from Teotitlán del Valle and Tlacolula and at lunch sat across from some visitors from Mexico City.

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We arrived just in time for the official ribbon cutting that signaled the opening of the fair.  We didn’t recognize any of the dignitaries, though most everyone else did and masses of cell phones rose high in the air to record the event.  Once the ceremonial duties were done, chairs were pushed back and a children’s folkloric dance group marched in to the familiar music of the China Oaxaqueña delegation heard during La Guelaguetza.  There was even a mini-torito (toritito?) wired with fireworks that was lit, though one of the little girls didn’t appear too thrilled.  And, as we wandered around, we could hear music that we recognized from some of the other regions of Oaxaca and we caught glimpses of more of the kids dancing.

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Unfortunately, woven plastic baskets have become a more common sight at the markets in the valley of Oaxaca.  So, the growing popularity of the fair is good news for a community that has seen a decline in the demand for their beautiful handcrafted baskets made from carrizo (aka, Arundo donax, Spanish cane, Giant cane, Wild Cane, and Colorado River weed) — a tall perennial cane that grows along river banks in Oaxaca.  Besides traditional baskets and bird cages, the artisans have branched out to making lamps and shades, weaving decorative bottle covers for your mezcal, fashioning toys, and much more.  Naturally, I again couldn’t resist and happily came away with a new hamper.

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The Feria del Carrizo is also happening next Sunday, February 7.  SO, if you are in the neighborhood (San Juan Guelavia is only about 20 minutes east of the city), I highly recommend a visit and be sure to also stop at the tiendas on road into town — that’s actually where I bought my new hamper (above).

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This poster for a Feria del Carrizo arrived in my email inbox a few weeks ago.  There are ferias (fairs) for just about everything, so why not, carrizo?  Plus, I’d never been to San Juan Guelavía, though I’ve noticed the sign announcing its exit every time I’ve gone to or from Teotitlán del Valle and points south on route 190.

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The uninitiated might ask, what is carrizo?  As the Wikipedia entry advises, “Carrizo” should not be confused with “chorizo” the pork sausage.  Carrizo (aka, Arundo donax, Spanish cane, Giant cane, Wild Cane, and Colorado River weed) is a tall perennial cane that one can easily spot growing along river banks in Oaxaca.  (It kind of looks like bamboo.)  In fact, if you see a stand of carrizo, you can be almost certain there is a stream nearby.  Along with constructing shade structures, window coverings, and mezcal cups, one of its most common uses is in woven basketry.

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They range from the simple and utilitarian to the elegant shapes and complex designs that make them a works of art.

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And, to those in search of hard-to-find lamps and lampshades, check out the work of Teresa.  With measurements of my cast iron standing lamp (in desperate need of a new lampshade) in hand, I plan to pay a visit, muy pronto, to her studio at 5 de mayo, #48 in San Juan Guelavía.

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In the meantime, a-tisket, a-tasket I bought a carrizo basket.  And, it’s already elicited several compliments!

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Of course, when the band played, La Mayordomía, this little girl knew exactly what baskets are for!

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Artistry under blue sky and sun, with delicious food, a terrific all-girl band, surrounded by warm and welcoming people.  It was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday.

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