Located in Barelas, a historic Hispanic neighborhood in the South Valley, the Rail Yards Market (RYM) is among the must-experience venues in and around Albuquerque, although not easily classifiable. This community-run, volunteer-powered organization is as much of a meeting place as a market. Every Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the site is a vortex of sights, sounds, aromas and tastes. Patrons can shop from local growers, listen to local musicians, partake in guided stretching exercises, learn from dedicated educators and be exposed to cutting-edge art of all sorts.
The idea of repurposing this unique, abandoned rail yard structure was the brainchild of community members who organized an all-volunteer crew made up of folks from all walks of life. The physical space is now a mélange of steel, wood and stained glass. Upon entering, visitors follow old railroad tracks that used to bring in disabled rail cars for repairs. Owned and operated by the city of Albuquerque, the facility has been used for movie and music-video production and occasional other events. In May 2014, the blacksmith shop became the home of the RYM. More than 8,000 folks visited on opening day.
The RYM emphasizes education as well as entertainment, and every week there are four Educational Zones programmed with community partners:
Children’s Zone – provides entertaining and educational activities.
Steam Zone – combines elements of a pop-up, live arts gallery; artists from the community display and demonstrate their art, and topics such as sustainability through upcycling and recycling are exhibited and discussed.
Traditional Zone – offers the public exposure to traditional regional methods and ways of living.
- Main Stage – located at the rear of the building, has featured flamenco dancers, aerialists, poets and bands.
The RYM runs from May through October. The market recently completed its second season.
In December, the RYM is partnering with the Downtown Growers Market for the 2nd Annual Holiday Market, which last year attracted over 6,000 visitors. This year’s Holiday Market will feature more than 100 vendors and community groups, both inside and outside. A wide variety of local artisans and growers will be there, along with a variety of musical performances and kids’ activities. The Holiday Market is also hosting a food and book drive.
At its core, the RYM is focused on building a resilient and sustainable local economy, where community members can work, play, shop and learn.