Sponsored by the Dutchess County Sheep & Wool Growers, the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival returns to the Dutchess Fairgrounds October 17 through 20, with the grounds open free on Thursday and Friday and a $12 entry fee on either Saturday or Sunday and $17 for a full weekend pass. That entitles the visitor to plenty of entertainment related to the wonderful world of fiber art: shopping for wool, learning about different breeds of sheep, admiring llamas and alpacas on parade, rooting for your favorite sheepdog in the Frisbee competitions or watching it round up sheep à la the movie Babe, sans the pig. There are lectures and demonstrations and book-signings and even a lamb roast with tastings. But most folks who look forward to this festival every year are serious hobbyists who want to learn new techniques for knitting, spinning, dyeing, weaving, needle-felting, embroidery, rug-hooking, basketry, wreathmaking and so on. If that’s you, you’ll want to go straight to the website at https://sheepandwool.com/workshops/catalog to see what workshops are still open and to register; additional fees are required.
Festival hours have changed this year, running from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and until 4 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets can be purchased at the gate or online in advance at www.etix.com/ticket/v/11098/dutchess-county-fairgrounds-events.
New York State Sheep & Wool Festival
Thursday-Sunday, Oct. 17-20
$17/$12 + workshop fees
Dutchess County Fairgrounds
6550 Spring Brook Ave., Rhinebeck
“Community blanket” woven from Hudson Valley wools debuts at NYS Sheep & Wool Festival
Among the regular annual visitors to the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival is a historic mill in Harmony, Maine called Bartlettyarns, Inc. Not only does the company offer its own products for sale, but for the past two decades it has also cultivated supply relationships with Hudson Valley sheep farmers, either by purchasing wool directly at the festival or by making its washing, carding and spinning facilities available to them. Established in 1821, Bartlettyarns operates the last remaining spinning mule in the US creating woolen spun yarns and rovings. Its wool processing uses all organic products to wash the wool and all antique machinery to card and spin it.
For the past three years, Bartlettyarns has been pursuing a “wool pool” project to collect yarn from Hudson Valley wool producers and weave it into a “community blanket” reflecting the natural-colored wools grown in the region with two distinct plaid patterns. This limited-edition line of approximately 100 throws will be available for sale at the Wool Festival coming up October 17 to 20. If it is a success, Version II will come next year, say the folks at Bartlettyarns. Check it out at the Dutchess Fairgrounds.