Sheep & Wool Festival at Dutchess Fairgrounds

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

On the third full weekend of every October since 1980, all things wooly have been celebrated at the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. Exhibits and auctions, demonstrations and competitive shows, workshops and fun activities – it’s all here on the Fairgrounds to be seen and touched and tasted and experienced. And purchased. One can never have too much yarn on hand, right?

It’s all about the sheep. And goats and llamas and alpacas and paco-vicuñas and bunnies. These sweet-faced, sometimes noisy and entertaining animals grow some of the finest fleece around. Large covered arenas are filled with them, temporarily living in stalls small enough to allow kids (and short people) to meet and greet them in person. Livestock specimens include animals whose fiber is considered “exotic” and others with special skills, such as leaping! Don’t miss the llama parade, and check out the 2016 National Gotland Sheep Society Fleece Show.

Workshops being offered run the gamut of fiber arts skills, from various ethnic knitting methods to dyeing fibers to basic spinning to weaving techniques to sockmaking, basketmaking, felting. The list is long, and many of the slotted workshops are sold out early. Check out the offerings online so that you can make plans next year.


Merritt Bookstore in Millbrook will be selling books and hosting author talks and signings throughout the weekend; the lineup of notable authors is listed on the website, along with a whole-fair schedule of events. Live demos include cooking, sheepshearing, fiber arts methods and dog demos – the herding stock dog or working dog is vital to protect and manage any-sized flock.

Add storytellers and the Canadian Corpus Theater Troupe performing Les Moutons to an already-packed agenda, along with some October sunshine, fantastic vendors, good food – and you’ve got the best thing going. It’s enough to make every fiber artist salivate. For the best experience, read through the “essentials” list with basic info, dos and don’ts, what to wear, what not to bring and so on. Admission costs $12 per day at the gate, $17 for a weekend pass; children aged 11 and under get in free. Discounted tickets can be pre-purchased at


NYS Sheep and Wool Festival, Saturday/Sunday, October 15, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., October 16, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., $17/$12, Dutchess County Fairgrounds, 6550 Spring Brook Avenue, Rhinebeck;