a happy sheep munching away on lunch

Report from the
New York State Sheep and Wool Festival
Rhinebeck, NY
October 16-17, 2010

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If an actual "fiber festival season" were to exist, it would begin in May with the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival and culminate the third full weekend of October at the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival, lovingly dubbed "Rhinebeck" by its loyal fans.

crowds of fiber folk
The volunteer-run event draws staggering crowds from as near as New York and as far away as Australia. And it also brings together folks from all walks of life—knitters, spinners, weavers, farmers, businesspeople, knitting book authors, and even actress Uma Thurman (who caused quite a stir at the Red Maple Sportswear booth).

Briar Rose
It's a place of annual pilgrimage and covetous excitement, with long lines quickly forming by festival favorites. If the length of their lines were any indication, this year's darlings were Spirit Trail Fiberworks, Briar Rose, The Fold (which sells Blue Moon Fiberarts Socks That Rock yarn), and newcomer The Sanguine Gryphon.

the crowd the line for The FoldBut that's not all. Lines quickly form for the fleece area, the chicken pot pies, and the fried artichoke hearts. As I said, people have their favorites.

Spirit Trail Fiberworks
But Rhinebeck is also where newcomers are initiated and fall deep down the rabbit hole. They discover a world of yarns that exists beyond their own LYS.

They see animals, they watch people turn fiber into yarn. They buy their first fleece, spindle, or even spinning wheel. They imagine how much prettier their yard would be with a few sheep in it.

They experience what it's like to be surrounded by people to whom they don't need to justify their fiber passion. It's an amazing weekend.

a curious sheepdeep-fried spaghetti and meatballs on a stick The abundance of yarns, fibers, textures, and colors; the sounds and smells of animals, barbecue, and the ever-present fryolator (this year's novelty was deep-fried spaghetti and meatballs on a stick); and the energetic frenzy of tens of thousands of people, is an exciting and dizzying experience.

Conveying this experience in words is always a challenge, but I've done so for years. This year, I bring the sights and sounds of Rhinebeck alive through the following video. It's a three-minute romp and I hope you enjoy it.



If you do not see a YouTube window above, click here to watch the video.



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