The New York State Sheep & Wool Festival, or Rhinebeck Fiber Fest, or The Dutchess County Fiber Fair, or NY Wool Fest, or...it goes on forever. Whatever you call it, it's pretty much a bucket list item for anyone who does anything with fiber. We don't know if the most impressive thing is that 50,000 people show up every year, or that 16 volunteers run the whole thing. Yes, a VOLUNTEER RUN event, believe it or not. Apparently those still exist. On top of that, it's one of the least expensive shows we've ever been priviledged to attend. All the more to spend inside the wool barn...
We visited them on their 39th year, and this festival was a doozy. We'll have to do our podcast in two episodes, or maybe three. We met people and talked about the many and varied topics that come up in the fiber world -- shepherds, growers, spinners, shearers, weavers, felters...again, it goes on forever. That's a good thing.
We'd like to tell you that we saw the whole fair, but we met such great people straight out of the gate (sheep people are fantastic!) that we didn't get far. Goat people, alpaca people, llama people, rabbit people, and livestock and guardian dog people are wonderful too, we soon found, but we didn't hit escape velocity from the sheep barn until 10:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, so we have vowed next year to start with the camelids this time. Or maybe the goats. Or maybe rabbits. By 2025 we should be able to hit the weaving barn. All that wonderful livestock was probably a good thing, as the 4,327 barns (okay, maybe just 49 or 50) with all things fiber-related for sale would have been an expensive venture, and we have determined that Rick had a narrow escape.
We understand that this thing is pretty big with the non-livestock people (that was tongue in cheek), and we will talk about that a little more next week. In the meantime, we hope that while you are listening you will picture the sweaters, fabrics, threads, colors, patterns, and styles, and thousands of people walking about the fair wearing the most scrumptious handcrafted items you could possibly imagine.
The sheep were wearing beautiful ones, too.