The largest festival of its kind in North America –
and this year I had the opportunity to attend!!
Saturday morning we arrived before the gates opened to the scene below – and yes, the field did fill up.
Some of the vendor booths were so full you literally couldn’t squeeze in there. Maryland caters to a wealthier crowd of “You make it, I’ll buy it” people, so many of the items were finished and for sale.
There were some vendors selling fun projects such as DIY rug hooking using wool fabric (I thought of you, Carolyn, when seeing this!):
These are very long-lived brooms (below) according to locals. I would have bought one, but wasn’t sure how well I’d get onto the plane with it!
Vendors sold needle felting “kits” which contain all the supplies to make certain critters, like the ones displayed here. I was in awe of the sheer SIZE of some of these needle felted items!!
A fun idea was a CSA-type club for sheep –
One of the highlights of the festival were sheepdog demonstrations with a group of gorgeous Blue Faced Leicesters:
Click here to watch videos of the sheepdogs at work:
(Below) Break time!
The food options were some of the usual fair food, but I repeatedly enjoyed the Greek meals, fresh prepared daily:
And the not-so-healthy “Ribbon chips” – Fried potato chips topped with sour cream, cheese sauce, bacon bits, and chives. Yes, they tasted wonderful!! Kelly and I split one order.
Lovely Celtic and rustic style music to enjoy all weekend:
The Sheep to Shawl Contest definitely left the biggest impression on me. When someone asks, “What was the best part of your trip” – This is my answer: “Watching a team of five shear a sheep (1), spin the raw fleece (3), and weave (1) into a shawl in THREE, yes only THREE hours.”
Click to view video:
Click to view video:
Then to see the jaw-dropping $1,475 fighting bidding between two people to purchase the second place shawl definitely got all our hearts pumping!
I watched the electric shearing demonstration, just to compare to the few shearers I have seen in my oh-so-experienced first year as a shepherd (cough, I’m not experienced – LOL). The shearer did a nice job – always impressive to cleanly shear a sheep in a couple minutes! Perhaps more impressive, in that I hadn’t seen old-fashioned hand shearing before, was that the hand shearing was equal in quality and did not take much longer than the electric. Well done!
Saturday evening I spent 6-9PM in a hall with a group of ladies at a spin-in. I did not have my wheel, so brought my knitting project for our fiber exchange and I’m happy to say I completed it there that night! (Shawn will get her project back on Memorial Day!). I also met some other spinners and “connected” with two of them on ravelry, which I am new to.
The spinners did a contest: Three or more yards of yarn spun from roving – winner was the one with the greatest distance between small and large width of yarn. Hilarious because the “large” sections kept clogging up on the flyer. The “scientist” of the group measured to find the winner (below).
Saving the best (in my opinion, probably not yours…) for last, I loved comparing my wooly beauties at home to the natural colored Border Leicesters that showed on Saturday. Mendenhalls offered to bring home any that I bought and deliver them to Black Sheep Gathering for me. Sooooo tempting, and I may have done something drastic like that if I hadn’t already had two colored purebred BL ewe lambs born on our farm this year!
As an end note: For those West Coasties that want to have gone to the festival – I have now been to both Maryland and Black Sheep Gathering. In my opinion, black sheep is every bit as good, if not better in some ways. As a new shepherdess & spinner, I thought Black Sheep caters more to those that want to work with wool. Maryland Sheep & Wool is more for tourists and city folk to peruse and learn about the sheep/wool industry. Of course, if you get the chance – both are wonderful festivals!!