Wool Provides Opportunity for Learning and Fun

Wool Provides Opportunity for Learning and Fun

Promotion & Education State Committee

Mary Stephens – At Large Member


If it’s related to sheep, wool, fiber, or fun you’ll find it at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival, at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in beautiful Rhinebeck, New York Oct. 20 – 21, 2018.

Sheep are a popular form of livestock in our state. According to the USDA NASS Survey from January, 2017, there are 85,000 sheep and lambs in New York.

Many sheep are raised for their wool fiber. Fiber art refers to fine art where the material consists of natural or synthetic fiber and other components, such as fabric or yarn. It focuses on the materials and on the manual labor on the part of the artist as part of the works’ significance and prioritizes aesthetic value over utility.

There are well over 149 fiber art festivals in the US – that’s not including all the spin ins, hook ins, or knitting circles, or classes that takes place outside the festivals. What’s a hook in? what’s a spin in- a group of spinners or a group of hookers (rug hookers) gather for a day or weekend and just spin or just hook, maybe an educational piece is involved, but basically they learn from each other and enjoy each other’s company and projects.  Have you ever Nuno Felted a scarf? Dyed wool with Kool Aid, or plants? Fiber art has no boundaries, whether you’re working with Angora rabbit, or alpaca, or mohair (goat) or one of several hundred types of wool-different breeds offer different characteristics of wool.

New York offers the largest Sheep and Wool Festival in the country- NYS Sheep and Wool festival is in its 38th year. It started as bred ewe sale- but oh how it’s grown- now with over 300 vendors, if you need anything fiber related you will find at Rhinebeck. The festival still offers a bred ewe sale on Saturday morning, as well as used equipment auction- fiber equipment as well as some sheep working equipment. There’s so much to do in two days Oct. 20 – 21- always the third weekend in October. There are demonstrations, book signings, sheep shows, sheep shearing, fiber art competitions, over 700 fleeces for sale, livestock demonstrations, kids’ activities, shepherd talks, too much to list…. Shepherd talks stemmed from the breed display barn- over 40 different breeds are proudly displayed, their shepherds are happy to educate you about the finer points of their breed, helping new shepherds choose their breed, or helping fiber artist find just the perfect wool to use in their next project. The sheep display barn and the llama and Alpaca barn also participate in parade on Sunday. The leaping llamas are always a huge crowd pleaser.

The NYS Sheep and Wool Festival offers some the most desired workshops, instructors and students from around the world to attend, Thursday to Sunday workshops. Double knitting, dyeing, basket making, weaving, rug hooking, oxford punch, you name it NYS Sheep and Wool fest has it. Classes fill up FAST.

NYS Sheep and Wool festival is also home to the NYS Make with Wool competition. Winners move to the National competition during the American Sheep industry convention.

Check out the website for more info: .