Last year Cathy (Luvswool) and I attended the Midwest Fiber Fair and were disappointed there were no live sheep. So, this year we decided to attend the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival in Jefferson, WI. Since we weren’t sure how big the Festival was and it was a two hour drive one way, we booked rooms for that Saturday night.
They had an extensive schedule of events and classes. Since we were interested in the Stock and Whistle Dog Trials, that’s where we headed first. We were under the impression they had started at 7 a.m. and we arrived around noon. We waited for almost an hour on a cold bleacher with the wind blowing like mad while they had meeting and set up the field (obviously they didn’t start early.) Fortunately, a gentleman with a headset and speaker was walking around answering questions and keeping up apprised of the activity. The first up were the more experienced trainers and dogs. It was hard to get good pictures because of the distance and the fence. The event itself lasted less than 10 minutes. Still unsure of what we were seeing, we listened to others around us say the trial went well.
Cold and hungry we headed for the food stands. After a quick lunch we perused an auction and saw a bit of the Make it with Wool competition and saw the Wonderful Wisconsin Quilts and Wall Hangings Exhibit.
There were two long buildings packed with over 130 vendors. However, it was fairly crowded and dark so we didn’t take a lot of pictures. Most everything was fiber, tools, and some finished goods. We ran across this display and thought of Zed who has been thinking about fiber packs. We thought this was an interesting way to market a variety of mixed fibers.
We even found a a copy of Ruth’s book on a display shelf.
There were contests and displays of all sorts and dozens of classes. We visited the class building but weren’t able to access it. They also had a Walk and Knit Relay challenge, and a Kids Fiber Camp in addition to judging for youth activities and sheep.
There was also a Hall of Breeds, a couple of breeds we hadn’t heard of. But we did get to see many breeds we were familiar with. Although there was an Icelandic sheep there, a vendor told us she had just been to Iceland and our sheep look nothing like the real ones. Huh.
The shearing demonstration was next. The gentleman doing the shearing gave us an explanation as to why the moccasin shoes he was wearing were important to the shearing process. Having his feet close to the ground and animal, he could easily feel the slightest movement of the sheep between his legs to make adjustments as he sheared. He has been shearing for 38 years and does this all over the world. When asked how long it takes to shear one sheep, he answered in averages depending on the type of sheep, size and location. Evidently, shearing in New Zealand is quick. Sorry about the angle of the pictures we didn’t know when we sat down what view we’d have.
Really the whole Festival was indeed about sheep. There were even classes for sheepherders. By the time we got around the whole fair, we had to make one more run through the vendor buildings. We couldn’t go home empty handed.
Cathy bought a handmade broom, black silk tussah, camel/silk roving, white Navajo churro, linen embroidery threads, hand-dyed silk thread, and an eco-dyeing book.
I bought grey and white Navajo churro, black corriedale and black silk tussah.
We were glad we had rooms for the night. We had dinner in Whitewater and returned home in the morning satisfied we had seen plenty of sheep.