Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

Over the years I have heard many good things about the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival but had never visited. Now that we have sheep it seemed like a good time to go. Maddy and I spent Sunday there and found it very enjoyable. First I would like to commend the festival organizers for an amazing job. Everything was very well organized, from the parking, to the brochures, to the number of bathrooms. And the amount of lamb you could eat! Yummy! We started with a lamb kabob when we arrived, then had a lamb burger and lamb sausage for lunch. We tasted sheeps' milk cheese and came home with two different types.
The first thing we noticed when we arrived on the festival grounds was all the beautiful colors of yarn. It was a feast for the eyes, and the fingertips. Definitely sensory overload after a while. And I don't even knit! Maybe I need to learn.
And the raw fleeces! So many beautiful fleeces! Don't want to process a fleece? You can drop your raw fleece off at the wool processor's booth and they will ship it to your home when it's all processed. Or you could buy some roving ready for spinning. Don't want natural colored roving? Well then here are tons of different colors of pre-dyed roving! One could literally go crazy trying to figure out what to buy. Luckily, I had a pretty specific shopping list. We needed a couple of boat shuttles for the loom and I found some pretty cheap ones that weren't made of beautiful cherry. Until I know more about weaving I really didn't want to spend too much money on these. I also bought a ball of Coopworth roving to try spinning. I have two spinning wheels that I can sort of make work (not their fault, entirely mine.) If I add a couple of wool sheep I am leaning heavily toward the Coopworth breed. So I thought it would be nice to see how I like to work with the wool.
The sheep barns were a treat too. I just wish there was more signage about the specific breeds and more people around to talk about their sheep. The festival is definitely geared toward the wool breeds though. There were no hair sheep to be seen anywhere!
Where else can you see a couple of gals taking their sheep for a walk! I would imagine that these sheep have been trained since they were lambs to walk on a lead.

Maybe my favorite part of the day was watching the auction of shepherding equipment. We need to bring the van next year. They sold off some nice used equipment at decent prices. There were no great steals but the prices were very fair for used equipment. Saturday there was another auction of spinning and weaving supplies that I would have liked to have seen too. And we missed the workshop on Friday on Basic Shepherding. Next year it looks like we'll try to spend the entire weekend at the festival.

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