Never mind Bambi. Among the even-toed ungulates of our planet, is there any creature more appealing than a llama, with its velvety muzzle, big liquid eyes and long soulful eyelashes? Well, actually, there is: an alpaca. Alpacas are smaller, cuter, more delicately built than their llama cousins, and their wool is finer, softer, more highly prized for weaving and knitting.
If you haven’t experienced your summer quota of alpaca-petting as yet, you get another chance this weekend as the Woodstock-New Paltz Art & Crafts Fair returns to the Ulster County Fairgrounds in New Paltz. The Crafts Fair’s Labor Day installment traditionally spotlights fiber arts (as opposed to yard and garden décor on Memorial Day weekend), and this year’s is no exception. The names of no fewer than 33 fiber artisans are included in the list of exhibitors as of presstime, and three members of the Catskill Mountain Artisans’ Guild will be conducting related hands-on demonstrations: a weaving workshop for kids with Tabitha Gilmore Barnes on Saturday, a recycled wearables workshop with Eva Fox on Sunday and a spinning workshop with Karen Lloyd on Monday.
And then there are those adorable live alpacas, holding court at the Fiber Arts Supplies exhibit all weekend long, courtesy of Kellogg’s Alpacas, of Scio, New York. In addition to exhibiting their handcrafted hats, mittens, socks and clothing line, the folks from Kellogg’s will be demonstrating their unique techniques of weaving, knitting and felting with alpaca wool.
Of course, as always, the Fair will include highly covetable handcrafted objects of every imaginable description in every imaginable category, at prices from the surprisingly affordable to the ridiculously extravagant, along with crafting supplies and artisan cooking ingredients. There’s a children’s tent where you can leave your kids to do hands-on craft projects under safe adult supervision while you shop, plus plenty of vendors of better-than-average fair food. The music tent will feature Session 9, Bill Robinson’s Wildlife Show and the Mojo Myles Band on Saturday, Dorraine Scofield, Mark Rust and the Phantoms on Sunday and Paul Mueller and All-She-Wrote on Monday.
The Fair is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, August 31 and September 1, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Labor Day Monday, September 2. Admission costs $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and is free for children age 12 and under. You can get a $1 discount admission coupon by signing up for the e-mail list at the Quail Hollow website, www.quailhollow.com, which also offers a list of all the vendors and a map of where they’re situated among the many tents.
The Ulster County Fairgrounds are located at 249 Libertyville Road, southwest of New Paltz. Since the bridge over the Wallkill River at the bottom of Main Street (Route 299) is a bottleneck that tends to back traffic up all the way from Thruway Exit 18 on Crafts Fair weekends, you might want to approach the site from the Gardiner end of Libertyville Road. It’s longer in mileage but often shorter in time. Parking across the street is plentiful and free.
Woodstock-New Paltz Art & Crafts Fair, Friday/Saturday, August 31/September 1, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday, September 2, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., $8/$7, Ulster County Fairgrounds, 249 Libertyville Road, New Paltz; www.quailhollow.com.