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The Argentine Feria

March 28th, 2009 Posted in cosas lindas, culture

Written by Shanie

One of the great things about Argentina is its amazing, diverse and impressive types of handmade goods (artesanales) made throughout the country. And, of course, the ferias where these treasures are sold.

With Jamie’s birthday coming up, I have been on the path of finding unique and fun presents. It is certain that because of the Argentine Feria I am finding gifts that are not found mass-produced and sold in a department store or flagging a “Made in China” sticker. But I am realizing that there are differences in the ferias artesanales.

The goods truly do vary from region to region; each geographical area having its own special product.

In the north, in such areas as Salta and Tucuman, textiles are common. The ferias concentrate mainly on different rugs, shawls and wall hangings. The goods are incredibly detailed with bright colors such as purples and oranges intertwining to make different scenes. It is common to see an impressive wall hanging depicting beautiful snow capped peaks surrounding a woman bending down to pull water from a trickling stream. The likeness to a painting is shocking.

In Buenos Aires each area of the gigantic city has its own feria. In the Recoleta, the products range from intricate jewelry to beautifully-detailed leather purses. Each booth sells only original art made by the sales person and they are only allowed to sell three of their products. Clowns, dance groups and magicians entertain the person not wanting to shop. In Boca, paintings are the most common artifact but there is a lot of visual entertainment too. Tango dancers and musicians crowd the café entrances as an African marching band walks around the neighborhood. There are fun street entertainers to interact with as well. The San Telmo neighborhood Sunday feria is full of antiques. The fair extends beyond the main plaza into streets and various store fronts. The Tigre area, a short distance from Buenos Aires city center, has furniture, fruits and vegetables, an amusement park and old fashioned row boats to rent.

Feria San Telmo

Here in Patagonia the ferias take on more of a carpenter’s style flare. The wooden carvings can vary from intricately designed coffee tables to forearm-size log picture frames. Other treasures such as jewelry, candles and leather purses are also available. Another yummy treat at many Patagonian ferias — especially in El Bolson and Colonia Suiza — that can’t be found anywhere else in the country is the microwbrewed beer. Flavors like chocolate, rasberry and hot pepper join the more common wheat, dark and pilsen lagers.

The different styles of ferias and their collections are a part of what makes Argentina so wonderful. With the feria you not only get to meet the interesting person that created the piece of art but also bring home a well-priced prize that will not be found anywhere else in the world.

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