Fiber enthusiasts of every persuasion will gather this weekend, Sept. 8-9, for the fall fiber festival season when the Vermont Sheep & Goat association offers up its 19th Annual Sheep and Wool Festival at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex Junction.
Voted by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce as a Top Ten Fall Event the festival features fiber animals on display, sheep dog demonstrations, a full range of fiber craft vendors, drop in workshops, artisan cheeses and fresh lamb, and a diverse group of fiber loving souls gathered to share their knowledge and passion for all things of a natural fiber kind.
Central to this distinctly Vermont rite of fall is a display of regional fiber animals including sheep, llamas, alpacas, angora goats and rabbits in a vast array of sizes and colors. The breed varieties include animals specialized for meat, milk, cheese and wool and fiber characteristics. Visiting the animal barns is a first rate opportunity to get up close and personal with these animals and the people who keep them. Sheep equipment, sheep supplies, fencing, and advice will also be available. Whether you are looking for a conversation with a knowledgeable breeder for information on raising animals or yearn to hold a bunny or pat an alpaca, the animal barns offer up many opportunities to do both.
Sheepdog (border collie) herding, handling, and sheep shearing demonstrations will occur throughout the weekend. Workshops on the basics of choosing sheep, and sheep keeping and raising animals are two workshops being offered free for attendees interested in starting their own fiber flock.
Fiber enthusiasts can choose from workshops in Beginning Spinning, Wet Felt Scarf, Weaving 101: Using the Frame Loom, and dye work (Singing the Indigo Blues). "Drop In sessions will be offered in hands on spinning, weaving, needle felting with llama fiber and a Drop in and Knit Saturday and Sunday. Due to the lovely scale of this festival, there are many opportunities to meet with presenters and fiber artisans with expertise in various genres of the fiber arts. Check www.vermontsheepandgoat.org for updated listings and registration information. Pre-registration gets you free admission to the festival.
The Festival Marketplace showcases over 60 regional fiber artisans and trades people, offering crafts, fleeces, beautiful handcrafted wool and fiber items, yarn, spinning, weaving, rug hooking and knitting supplies. Prizewinning Vermont sheep cheeses are available from production farms this year, and vendors will have snacks and lunch items available with lamb based specialties.
Graded fiber arts contests with cash prizes are open to all. For a complete list of categories and information on entering these contests, write to Kim Goodling at email@example.com or 1638 Scales Hill Road, Washington, Vt. 05675.
Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors, and $1 for children under 12 years of age. A 2-day admission rate is also available. $1 off admission coupon is on the web site for visitors to print out. No dogs are allowed on the fairgrounds except those pre-approved for demonstration purposes. The Champlain Valley Expo is handicap accessible.