The New Mexico Women's Foundation Rag Rug Festival

by Genevieve Van Wyden
Rag rugs are made and sold by women in New Mexico.

Rag rugs are made and sold by women in New Mexico.

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A rag rug festival. From a small and simple beginning in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this annual event has blossomed into an annual, statewide opportunity for women to showcase their crafts, foods and weavings, even as they work with each other to overcome poverty and provide financially for their families.

Rag Rug Festival Locations

The Rag Rug Festival is held in different towns and cities throughout New Mexico. This festival originated in Santa Fe, beginning in 2002 when the New Mexico Women's Foundation set up and sponsored the first event, which was held in the patio of the NMWF president's house. Seven women, hailing from Las Trampas, brought their weaving creations to her house and sold out, writes the "Santa Fe New Mexican." The New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces hosts the Rag Rug Festival. The event also presents and sells woven rugs, foods and crafts in Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico.

Participating Artisans and Groups

Six different organizations that represent over 60 female artisans participate in this annual event. The Ramah Navajo Weavers from Pine Hill, New Mexico; Creaciones Yuca, a sewing group from from the desert community of Chaparral; Art for the Heart, hailing from Penasco; Southwest Women's Fiber Arts Collective, of Silver City; Tres Manos, which is a weaving group, comes from San Miguel; and Tejedoras de Las Trampas of Las Trampas. Don't overlook individual artists, who come from every corner of this far-flung state ---- Farmington in the northwest; Tularosa, in south central New Mexico; Espanola, in northern New Mexico; Las Cruces, close to the border of Texas and Mexico; Silver City, west and north of Las Cruces; Abiquiu, north of Espanola; Pecos, in northern New Mexico; San Patricio, in the southeast part of the state; Chaparral, south of Las Cruces; and well-known Santa Fe, in northern New Mexico.

Purpose of the Rag Rug Festival

The Rag Rug Festival came about as a way of helping women to help themselves out of poverty, says Dolores Dorado of the Tres Manos weaving Cooperative of San Miguel. "We are always working and selling," she said in an interview with the "Santa Fe New Mexican." You may not expect refugees from Bhutan to participate in this event, but two refugees who spent 17 years in a refugee camp left the camp and moved to Albuquerque. Chandra Kala Chapagai and Duka Maya Subedi, along with women from Sierra Leone and Somalia contributed their art and weavings to the festival for the first time in 2009, says the "Santa Fe New Mexican." Women weavers from the Navajo reservation ---- NaNeelzhin Women's Craft Circle ---- displayed and sold their rugs, all containing symbols central to the Navajo.

New Mexico Women's Foundation

The NMWF in Santa Fe helps provide economic opportunities to girls and women via several programs and approaches. The purpose of the NMWF is to help women in poverty overcome the barriers they face. The NMWF helps to provide mentoring and education to women through the Women Entrepreneurs Learn, or WE Learn; establishes cooperatives of at least three women to develop cottage industries within their communities; provides micro funding to the cooperatives; and helps with distribution outlets through events such as the Rag Rug Festival and the Holiday Gift Fiestas.

About the Author

I have always loved to write (developing an idea, research, putting the people, situations and setting onto the paper or keyboard). While I chose social work as my first career, I have always maintained the dream in my soul of writing "someday". My social work career ended, and after some years bouncing around in different fields, I decided to follow my old dream and returned to school. I earned my Journalism degree in December, 2006. I am currently in the process of outlining my first book and eagerly grabbing every chance I can to practice my craft. One of those opportunities is to submit a short story -- I am modifying the beginning of my book into a suitable short story, and I hope to submit (and see it in print) before very long.{{}}

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