Monday, May 29, 2023

Fiber Arts Fiesta: One Year Out, Behind the Scenes


The Albuquerque Fiber Arts Council just took down their long-running members' exhibit at the Sunport but no one has time to catch their breath. Planning for next year's Fiber Arts Fiesta on April 12-13, 2024, continues and there is much to be done. With 15 member guilds, an expected 70 vendors, up to 2,000 attendees and a myriad of parts to manage, there's no rest to be had.

"Our annual fiesta ran every other year, but not in 2021," said Rebecca Wardlaw,  secretary of the board of directors for the Council. "In spring of 2022, we re-set everything but had only 30 vendors due to uncertainty about public gatherings. So we're revving up in 2024. We already have our space reserved at Expo New Mexico."

There is room for up to 70 vendors of fiber arts and other shopper favorites like handmade foods, homegrown honey and crafts. Food to eat on the spot is of course provided by in-place booths at Expo, the food court of which has been extensively remodeled. 

Attendees can browse the individual display booths of  guilds from all over the state, like Thimbleweeds in Rio Rancho, East Mountain Cast-n-Knits, Adobe Wool Arts in Edgewood  and Las Arañas Spinners and Weavers Guild in Albuquerque. Goods include finished products and supplies for sale for quilters, crocheters, knitters, embroiderers, beaders and other fiber arts enthusiasts. Each guild also has the option of presenting a demo and/or featuring an artist at their booth. 

The guilds offer names of nonprofits to benefit from sales from the "smalls" table at the fiesta.  Collectively, members then vote for just one organization, like Roadrunner Food Bank or Habitat for Humanity, to receive the proceeds. Some guilds fund individual or educational group scholarships for fiber arts-related classes; those recipients speak a report back to the guild on the information learned.  The Council also lists the events of other fiber arts organizations in their monthly newsletter and on their website, whether or not those events are in the metropolitan area.

The Council dates back to the 1990s and Wardlaw has been involved since its inception (her particular skill is embroidery).  Right now, she's immersed in all of the tasks pertinent to their biggest event - besides vendor sign-ups, there are parking matters to finalize and volunteer coordinators to train. It's clear that Wardlaw loves her work, including letting the public know about this "extravaganza" in advance.

"You can spend all day at the fiesta and eat lunch, and we have two-day passes because there's a lot to browse,"  she said.  Interested in volunteering? Contact Elizabeth Whitehead at


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