After seventeen years in Eugene, I feel pretty much "done" with Saturday Market artesanal fair and street fairs in general. However, on a sunny day, wandering around the city by perusing blocks and blocks of street vendors is a nice way to spend some time.
Our first Sunday was sunny and warm: perfect for going to the street fair.The fair is a combination of artesanal objects for sale (clothing, jewelry, art), antiques, tourist gear (magnets, Tshirts, tango CDs) and made-in-China things sold by Bolivians.
I didn't end up buying anything, but Gayle had a lot of fun with artwork. In fact, we had an epic search for a bank machine, as the only one I knew in the area (at Plaza de Mayo) was down for repairs. Even the sellers had no idea where to go for money, as they didn't live in the area. In the end, we identified several in walking distance of the fair with help from Gayle's iPhone; got money; and made several artists happy.
My favorite was Oscar Divito, from whom Gayle bought a beautiful painting (acrylic on canvas). Check out his work on his link. Warmhearted, gracious, nice person AND art. He is usually at Defensa and Alsina (a bit towards the Casa Rosada from Alsina).
This street fair is huge compared to ten years ago: it used to stretch a few blocks in all directions from Plaza Dorrego at Defensa and Humberto Primo. Now, it starts at Defensa where it meets the Plaza de Mayo in front of the Casa Rosada (the equivalent of the White House, but it's pink), and continues all the way to Plaza Dorrego. Wow!
Recoleta street fair is at Plaza Francia: it's not actually on a street. Instead, booths are set on winding paths starting in front of Recoleta Cemetary and stretching down the hill. This fair reminds me a lot of Saturday Market in Portland and Eugene: there were Brazilian drummers, a smell of pot, hippie girls, etc.
The offerings are similar to Saturday Market, too. I saw a LOT of crocheted tops, leather handbags, ceramic mugs and jewelry. However, there were some very beautiful handcrafts. The most beautiful were the handcrafted marionettes, which I would have bought to take home if I had had any money left by that time; after the bank search the weekend before, I didn't want to repeat the forced march around the neighborhood.
Sublime Cueros had a nice selection of leather boxes and knickknacks. They also very fun jewelry boxes shaped like mini chests of drawers in bright colors. Pretty! There were many other leather workers as well.
Ten years ago, Plaza Italia had a big street fair. I hadn't checked it out for ten years, so we hopped in a taxi and went across town to check it out. The other street fairs have decimated the population of this fair. Can you call something a street fair when there are only ten booths, and only five are populated? Very disappointing.
There is a street fair here, but it is only used books. If you are interested in used books, you could probably spend all afternoon wandering through the booths. It strikes me as much smaller than the book fair along the Seine in Paris, and it is not nearly as picturesque. However, if you want used books, there they are. Personally, I would choose to hit the used bookstores around the Corrientes and Callao area.
My friend Alejandro from college recommended a huge bookstore, El Ateneo for my buying pleasure, but as I found out about it Saturday night, and it was closed Sunday, and Monday was a holiday, I don't think I'm going to make it over there today :-(