Friday, October 28, 2011

Rhinebeck Review - aka New York State Sheep & Wool Festival

At long last, I had the opportunity to visit the famed New York State Sheep & Wool Festival (commonly referred to as "Rhinebeck" because of it's location), as the first part of our vacation this year.  

Having read endless raves and reviews of past years' shows, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect - barns full of magnificent yarn, fiber and knitting and spinning supplies, fleece and fiber-animal competitions, workshops, people, food, food and more food, and lots of fun. On every item, Rhinebeck fulfilled those expectations, but I had some reservations as well. 

We arrived about 30 minutes prior to the show opening on Saturday, and had plenty of good parking choices near a secondary gate. After sitting in the car knitting for a while, we purchased wristbands for entry - $17 for a two-day pass - and joined the growing queue.

The fairgrounds where the show is held are clean, beautifully landscaped and easy to navigate.

The autumn trees are lovely and there are food opportunities everywhere from the giant building full of food and wine vendors

to local 4-H kids raising funds, to fair-type food like cotton candy.

A fun part of the show for me was meeting up with my knitting friends Lynn, shown here in the Brooks Farm booth,

and Andrea, a workshop teacher at this year's event.

I kept a sharp eye on Ravelry badges, hoping to see names from my friends list, but was disappointed to not find any Rav friends. However, in the photo below are a few Ravelry designer faces (and backsides), including Ysolda Teague, Stephen West and others.

Muddy fields and parking lots, hard pavement and changing weather conditions mean comfortable shoes and layered clothing are a must.

Of course, knits were everywhere to be seen and a favorite part of the experience for me was admiring all the hard work displayed by thousands of knitters.

The only unpleasant part of the show for me was from about 12-2 PM on Saturday, when the buildings became so crowded that you were literally pushed along with a solid mass of people. Stopping to look or enter a booth was difficult, and I was concerned for mobility-challenged folks with walkers, and for  those pushing baby strollers.

Lines to have knitting books signed by the author were long, with one of the longest being to meet Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka the Yarn Harlot.

This photo was taken on Sunday when things were much calmer.

Of course for knitters, the fiber and yarn were the stars of the show and there was something there to tempt every taste. I especially loved selections from Briar Rose (always a favorite),

Spirit Trail Fiberworks, and The Sanguine Gryphon

It seems I'm also smitten with this skein of gray Miss Babs Yummy Sock yarn - what a surprise...

There are other interesting things to peruse in addition to fiber, like jewelry, baskets and farmer's market apples.

A pumpkin-carving expert displayed some creative items.

I saved the animals for Sunday so I could really take my time to enjoy interacting with them. A large part of the show is centered around fiber animal competitions and there were plentiful opportunities to touch the animals,

learn about them,

watch them being prepared for showing,

and competing with their handlers.

This little goat was so friendly and sweet.

My husband and I had a wonderful time and I look forward to visiting again sometime. Although it was a terrific show, for me it is not a yearly 'must-do' event, as there are so many other great fiber events held around the US that I'd like to visit. But Rhinebeck is certainly one I will keep on my list.


  1. This is by far the most detailed account I've read of the festival - love all the pictures! My favourites are those with all the animals - they look all so beautiful and friendly!
    Those skeins of Miss Babs look so, so pretty...

    Thanks for sharing this with us. There's nothing that comes even close to this in France. :)