As promised (or threatened), I hauled the family to the 2009 Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival last Saturday, close to three hours away from where we live. And as predicted, the crowds were incredible. I think this festival attracts more and more people every year! Nonetheless, we all enjoyed it to some degree and were entertained by some very amusing livestock, and a working sheepdog demonstration which was rather fascinating.
Above is the obligatory crowd shot. It was intermittently rainy on the way to the festival, but stopped before we arrived and was decent for the rest of the day. Threatening weather doesn’t phase fiber and yarn fantatics, that’s for sure. At right is my DH with our youngest son (in yellow) who kept nagging us, “Can we leave now?” He has a short attention span.
Those Border Collies are very well-trained! I believe the Border Collie is herding Blue-Faced Leicester sheep; the high-quality wool of which is coveted by many fiber artists and knitters around the globe. I have yet to get my hands on some. Maybe at next year’s festival…
Walking through the livestock buildings, we saw many different sheep in the pens, most with a full coat of fleece that were waiting to be perfectly groomed and taken to the show ring.
I must admit that sometimes the thought of life on a sheep farm (or alpaca) is enticing to the point that I want to try to make it happen. Maybe someday it will, but I think that we’d have to start small. Maybe one Angora rabbit at first, then maybe two, and if that works for us, perhaps an Angora rabbitry. And I must also admit… I really want a bunny! Too bad we can’t have one now, but it’s always something we can work toward.
Many of the sheep were resting when we walked through, but our boys found one of the few attentive sheep in the barn and gave it some affection.
We were all highly-amused by this freshly-shorn llama who was sitting in his pen chewing his cud with a piece of straw hanging out of his mouth. What a funny-looking animal!
Next, we saw a really cute alpaca that loved having the back of his neck scratched, so we obliged him.
In the middle of photographing all the livestock, I was on the lookout for the only three things I had on my “must have” list from this festival, and believe it or not, I had enough willpower to bypass the rest of the vendors with a glance if I didn’t see what I was looking for. So we headed to the main exhibition hall to see if we could find my items where much, much more pushing and shoving ensued. And I thought the crowd outside was incredible… HA! That crowd couldn’t even compare to the one which was inside this building!
Every few steps, I had to stop and look around to see what I could see around the hundreds of other people that were milling about, who were no doubt searching for their particular items too. If it was fiber-related, I knew it could be found inside this building, and it was. But not before I found this fabulous great wheel demonstration at an antique vendor’s booth.
Even DH and the boys seemed curious and she was gathering a little crowd to watch her spin. It was interesting how she drafted the wool into such a fine thread by wrapping it around her finger.
These beautiful antique spinning wheels and other spinning tools were located in this booth as well.
This is the Butterfly Electronic Yarn Spinner, handcrafted by Wild Meadow. We didn’t get to see one in action, but this just might become one of my Christmas wish list items in the near future! After all, DH did stealthily pick up a brochure about it unbeknownst while I was checking it out and taking pictures.
A very good day indeed, and I found the three items that I wanted. Well, two really, but I substituted one for another. I bought a set of Ashford 72-point hand carders, an Ashford student drop spindle and a pound of white medium wool top roving, the latter two came from Ohio Valley Natural Fibers. I originally wanted to get more angora fluff to add to the 2 oz. of angora fluff that I got from Thistledown Alpacas during last year’s festival, but by the time I finally found their tent, all my guys wanted to go because it was getting late (and all their bunnies had been sold already, darn it). I already can’t wait for next year’s festival, and will probably visit Thistledown Alpacas as one of my first stops instead of my last.