Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival 2015

Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival 2015

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.

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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.


We had to visit the Lambing Barn, but passed on the Carcass competition. Here are the lambs born that morning.20150912_132256

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.

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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.

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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.



23 thoughts on “Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival 2015

  1. That sheep shearer must have a superman back – all that hard work for 38 years and he’s still going!
    Sheep dog trials are very popular over here, and as most of us live in towns and cities we see them on the t.v. I always find them fascinating.
    It was good to see Ruth’s book and I like the jars of inspiration.

    1. You’re right Lyn, he must have a super strong back. It hurt mine just watching him bend and twist like that. I think we would have enjoyed the trials more had we known what we were seeing and it wasn’t so windy and cold.

      Seeing Ruth’s book was like meeting up with a good friend. It put a smile on my face.

  2. It looks like you had a great time 🙂 Those jars are an excellent idea! And how great you saw Ruth’s book, too.

    1. We did Zed, other than being cold in the beginning. There was so much to see. I’m sure we only scratched the surface. Being surrounded by fiber is always fun. 🙂 It’s just restraining yourself from buying it all that’s hard. 🙂

  3. I was unable to make it to the WI Festival this year but usually do it with a felting friend every year. I cant believe that you crammed all of those events into one day! We usually spend at least a day and a half there, getting inspiration and buying LOTS of unique fibers and embellishments. I’ve been to a few state’s wool festivals and I like that WI has a lot of real sheep along with the fiber aspect.

    1. I’m sorry you couldn’t make this year Jill. Next year if we all go we should get together and finally meet in person. We thought about going back the next morning, but we really did cram a lot in and I’m still having back problems so we decided to go home the next morning. Now that we know what it’s like we could pace ourselves better and do two days. I hope you enjoyed the virtual tour this year. 🙂

    1. It was fun Sharon. Everyone interested in wool should have the opportunity to see the sheep and shearing in live action.

    2. Wow! I didn’t know there were competitions. That’s a must see! Now on my list. 🙂

  4. Looks like a great event. One day I want to get to Rhinebeck in NY state. Maybe the Shetland don’t look the same because they have been bred outside of Iceland for a long time. They don’t let them out any more, at least the last time I heard anything about importing them.

  5. Obviously, there must be a big event in NY that you want to go. I hope you get to. This was a nice event, but a lot of walking and standing for me. I just thought it was interesting that that woman commented on the Icelandic sheep. I’m sure, feed, weather, etc. have a lot to do with differences besides the fact they may have been cross bred or overbred.

  6. Sounds like you had a wonderful time! Glad you got to enjoy the sheep this time 🙂 Those jars of wool look great, it looks like a great marketing idea!

    1. We did Leonor. It was really nice to get up close and personal with the sheep and watch the process of shearing. We thought the jar was a great marketing tool, too!

  7. This was the second year my husband , daughter, and I traveled from Michigan to attend the show. we had a wonderful time. My daughter participated in the sheep skill a thon which was a great lesson in understanding more about sheep. We got in on the silent auction and bought a ton of roving for our felting projects. my husband attended classes and watch the sheep show. This is one of the best fiber shows because there is something for everyone.

    1. There certainly is something for everyone Betty. I’m glad you had such a great time. I didn’t even realize there was a sheep skill a thon. What a great opportunity for your daughter. I’ll have to look at the schedule closer next year. This was a last minute trip so the classes we were interested in were already full. Better planning next year! Perhaps we’ll see you there! Thanks for stopping by.

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