Questa hosts Cambalache Trade Fair Oct. 1 at Perovich Park


The Questa Economic Development Fund will host the Cambalache Trade Fair on Oct. 1, at the Perovich Park off State Road 522, next to the traffic light. The event will take place from noon until 6 p.m. A cambalache is a traditional trade fair going back many years to bring people together to trade and celebrate the end-of-the-year harvest in Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado.

Cambalache offers fruits, vegetables and canned goods for sale or trade. Arts and crafts from local artisans are also available, along with fun and entertainment. Several local bands will provide music for dancing and listening.

The fair also features the burning of the dummy figure of Cucui, which symbolizes a release of our worries, sorrows, pain, envies and jealousies.

Even though cambalaches, or fall trade festivals, have existed for hundreds of years, the most recent celebrations started in 1991 in Mora. The second cambalache the following year took place in Questa. Other communities were to take turns hosting cambalaches every year, according to the organizers of Regional Development Planning Group. All other communities lost interest for various reasons and the community of Questa has held the event almost every year since then.

Thanks to the hard work of Questa citizens - such as Cynthia Rael Vigil and her brother, Aaron Rael, and others - volunteers took an interest in continuing with this tradition. Aaron Rael, who passed away in 2012, acted as master of ceremonies in many Cambalache Trade Fair events. He had this to say about the celebration: "And what community is, is nothing more than relationships. We come together to share, to laugh, to cry. ... That's what a cambalache is."

Cleofes Vigil, who died in 1992, wrote the following poem before he passed especially for the Cambalache Trade Fair events. Beatrice Vigil translated the poem from Spanish.

'Mother of All Life, The Earth'

Ah, you who do not have false pride,

Ah, brave companions

Though we have no money

We travel hand in hand;

Though barefoot we are happy

With our belly heavy

Full of quelites verdes

And pardas verdolagas.

The poor man's heart rejoices

When the fields are green

With the delicious food

That never wearies the hungry;

The rounded tortillas

Prepared in every style,

Ah, what a tasty mouthful

The fields provide for us.

The sublime aroma

Of green chile in the hot embers,

Cooked with gusto

Ready to be plucked

How it stirs the appetite

Of a tired Hispano.

In the morning he awakes

And goes into his garden;

He quickly works up a sweat

When he sees his crops

Grow before is eyes;

It delights his heart,

He comes alive, knowing

The earth, his mother

Is going to feed him.

My brother, this is your mother,

Mother, fertile and fruitful;

If anyone takes her from you

You will be an orphan;

And from whose breasts

Will you drink sweet milk?

Be it of goat,

Or be it of cow,

I tell you once again.

For more information about the Cambalache Trade Fair, call Cynthia Rael Vigil at the Questa Market at (575) 779-9249 or the Questa Economic Development Fund at (575) 613-2852. For the Spanish version of this story, click here.