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Folk & Tribal Arts Marketplace More than Just a Spectacular Bazaar

To all who enjoy, collect or like to give treasures of folk art as gifts, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s Folk & Tribal Arts Marketplace is imminent, occurring Friday through Sunday, Dec. 4-6.

For three days, the museum’s halls and open spaces will be alive with an exuberant display of color, creativity and exotic traditions from around the world, with 30 vendors offering wares from over 50 countries, including baskets, décor, wearable art, furniture, jewelry, pottery, textiles, rugs, sculpture and more.

This great bazaar is not only a feast for the eyes and the soul but it is also an important fundraiser that helps finance the museum’s mission and programs, including its exhibits and great educational services — 25 percent of the proceeds support the museum.

The annual event began in 1985 with just a couple of vendors and has continuously grown in size and popularity. Many people from Santa Barbara and surrounding communities eagerly await the event every year.

Some come to shop for special people on their list or look for treasures to add to their collections, but most come for the fun of it. For many community members, the Folk & Tribal Arts Marketplace is a cool spot to meet friends and spend a couple of enjoyable hours together, dining at the Tribal Arts Café, while surveying the riotous display of color and creativity.

The Folk & Tribal Arts Marketplace is the largest event of its kind on California’s Central Coast and attracts many visitors over the three-day weekend.

Items offered range in cost from a few dollars to hundreds and even thousands of dollars. There is something for everybody, regardless of interest, taste or size of wallet.

Things that catch your eye may be from Central Asia (Turkmenistan or Kyrgyzstan), the Himalayas, Mongolia, New Guinea, various parts of Africa, different countries of South America or Mexico.

Many of the vendors personally travel to these far flung places to collect and are familiar with the peoples and cultures which produced these unique offerings. Simply chatting with them can be an experience in itself.

However, Folk & Tribal Arts Marketplace is not just a commercial affair that raises much needed funds to support the museum’s programs. It is also an expression of the museum’s mission, to help us better understand, appreciate and protect the marvelous diversity of the natural and cultural world.

It pursues this goal through sprawling programs in research, exhibits, education and community services. There could hardly be a more vivid display of the diversity of human cultures and traditions than The Folk & Tribal Arts Marketplace.

The event makes this diversity especially tangible and personally meaningful by allowing us to acquire some of those exotic creations, take them home with us and have them as steady reminders that we are all members of a vast, and vastly diverse, human family.

See you at Folk & Tribal Arts Marketplace!

— Dr. Karl Hutterer is the former executive director of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and currently serves as development officer of Legacy Giving. To learn more, please visit http://sbnaturelegacy.org.

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