5th June, 2012: It's almost a month since Douglas and I went to explore the US sheep and wool market and we are just about beginning to digest all the information and contacts ... We had a great time! The Festival is in its 39th year and attracts around 70,000 visitors each year. Attendance was a bit down this year, but it was still hopping! It can be some years before an applicant for a show booth (stand in English!) gets their turn.
The Festival is free to enter (so they do not have precise visitor numbers), relatively cheap to show at and this is because it relies entirely on VOLUNTEERS! A great and wonderful crowd of enthusiasts:
We gave a talk about The Natural Fibre Company, met around 8 mills of all sizes, particularly Green Mountain Spinnery, Fingerlakes Woolen Mill and Zeilinger and we also met Deb Robson, Clara Parkes, Jennifer Heverley (Spirit Trail yarns), Solitude yarns (beautiful breed specific yarns) and so many more ...
There were also plenty of sheep and the grand breed parade included no less than 43 different breeds. US sheep of all breeds are BIG compared to those in the UK, with the exception of the Jacob, which has been kept smaller and more towards the primitive style.
I at last saw in the flesh one of the breeds which comes from Africa and the middle east, the Karakul - the original of the Persian lamb - lovely and soft lambs but much coarser in adults, and with the classic droopy ears of African/Asian breeds. Lovely!