For about two decades now, this city in the Sonoran Desert has become a February gathering place for artists and vendors from all over Africa. For a couple of weeks, a tent city pops up and about a hundred vendors set up shop. Associated with the six-decade-old tradition of the international Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase, this is one of the largest gatherings of its kind in North America.
A small outdoor kitchen serves up Lamb stew, rice and plantains so you can get a taste of West Africa before or after browsing. There's something for almost everyone, from strands of beads for jewelry-makers to monumental sculptures, and, of course, tie dyed clothing. Furniture from Mali, textiles from Burkina Faso, totems from Sudan, sculpture from Côte d'Ivoire, Zulu baskets, reproductions of Bénin bronzes, and masks from across the continent—all in one place.
The rest of the year, it's a nondescript desert lot behind a Waffle House adjacent to the Interstate highway, but every February, it's a polyglot bazaar.