Thursday, October 21, 2010

New York Sheep and Wool Festival 2010

If you'd told me two years ago - or even two months ago - that I'd be gaily driving three hours to attend a sheep and wool festival, I'd have told you that you were crazy. Yet we saddled up the Mummy Mobile this Saturday to do exactly that.

The event was the New York Sheep and Wool Festival - one of the largest annual gatherings of knitters, spinners and shearers in America. Held on a dry, crisp October weekend in New York's stunning Catskill Mountains, it was a truly spectacular day to be out enjoying the countryside.

I've always had a soft spot for sheep - my parents raised rare breeds when I was growing up. That's why I got a thrill to see one of my parent's breeds proudly represented in the breeder's barn - the venerable Wensleydale Sheep.

Two well behaved, if modestly proportioned, Wensleydales were on display, and Mini Militant got to take home a tuft of their distinctive, dreadlock-like fleece.

From Suffolks to Merinos, there was just about every breed of sheep imaginable on display, along with angora rabbits, goats, musk oxen and just about any form of animal you can shave and make wool out of.

Particularly noteworthy were the llamas and alpacas, whom Mini Militant was absolutely transfixed with.

In addition to the animals, there was plenty of wool-related fun to be enjoyed. There were hundreds of stalls and stands (over 250 in all) and people spinning, knitting and creating all sorts of amazing woolen creations.

And it didn't take me long to find the tent dedicated to my tastes - where a variety of local New York winemakers were offering tastings. Some of their produce was delectable - and even inspired me to write a post for CNBC's Wine Portfolio blog.

I'll admit, it was a schlep to get there - about six hours round-trip in all. However we all had a great day out - and the great weather, great scenery and great atmosphere made the journey much more rewarding than spending another Saturday sitting at home.

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