ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – The Santa Fe International Folk Art Market is hitting the road and it’s stopping in North Texas. For the first time in the market’s 13 year history, a so called “sister market” is being held this weekend on the University of Texas at Arlington campus.

“If you are not able to travel around, come here… to our folk art market,” says Lesia Pona, a Ukranian artist making her first trip to North Texas for the festival, “and a big part of the world is coming to see you!”, she adds with a quiet laugh.

Over the years, the Santa Fe Folk Art Market, billed as the largest such market in the world, has attracted a large and loyal following.

“People come to the booth, the first question I ask them: where you from? Australia, Germany, Belgium,” recalls Gasali Adeyemo. “I ask, do you come to town to visit friends? They say, no. I came because of this market!”

Many artists say that the market provides exposure for their work and diverse cultures, but it is also an economic opportunity that many would not otherwise have.

Pona calls the artist offerings “art as survival”…her native Ukraine has been devastated by war.
“Many fabric and big plants are closed and people need to survive,” says Pona, who makes blouses adorned with intricate embroidered patterns, “so this is a great opportunity to share our cultural tradition and to help people earn the money by making such beautiful things.”

Adeyemo, a Nigerian born indigo artist, says he was initially surprised by the international support the market attracts. But, he now says he sees the market as a gift from God. “The market… I think they pull out a lot of artists from out of the shadows.”

Adeyemo has used sales of his handmade fabric to help build a school in his native country. And other artists are eager to teach North Texans about their treasures as well.

The market kicks off on Friday with a VIP Party and Shopping Experience at 6:30 p.m. at The Green at College Park on the UTA campus, located at 700 S. Center. The VIP Party will run until 9:00 p.m. Ticket prices are $150. VIP guests will be treated to a “Night in Old Havana” and have the first opportunity to shop the market.

On June 17, the market will be open to the public and will include food and entertainment as well as beautiful folk art for sale.
There are some  market 35 master artists who will feature handmade goods from a variety of countries including Italy, Ghana, Uzbekistan, South Sudan Myanmar and Peru, among others.

Early bird shopping is open from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. on Saturday for $25. Admission is $10 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and visitors can enter for free on Saturday after 6 p.m. Children under 16-year-old are admitted free all day Saturday.