The Garden State Sheep and Fiber Festival
As a daughter of the great state of New Jersey I have made it a sort of unofficial life’s mission to educate the folks on New Jersey and why it’s so great. One of my favorite topics to highlight is the state’s agriculture—it’s known as the Garden State for a reason, after all. All across the beautiful state are farms filled with beautiful produce (I could write poetry about Jersey tomatoes) and livestock including, of course, fabulous fiber animals, of course,urse it should come as no surprise that the great state of New Jersey is home to a variety of fiber festivals including the Garden State Sheep and Fiber Festival, being held this year September 8–9. Last year, our very own Gus Baxter talked to one of the folks behind the festival to find out more. Here’s what he had to say. —Christina
Gus: Give me the overview and a brief history of the Garden State Sheep and Fiber Festival.
Andrea: The Garden State Sheep Breeders (GSSB) has been holding a Sheep and Fiber Festival for 22 years. We are a non-profit organization promoting sheep and other fiber animals in the state of New Jersey and have members in Eastern Pennsylvania as well. The festival is run by a handful of volunteers, several of which organized the first festival back in 1993. The first festival had 14 vendors; this year there will be over 80!
We’ve always had sheep shearing and dog herding demos as well as a Breed Exhibit and open sheep shows. The sheep shows are designed to make it easy for sheep owners to participate with low entry fees and an on-site vet check. We host sheep shows for a number of rare sheep breeds including the 1st National Gotland Show (2011), 1st National Coopworth Show (2012), 1st National Baby Doll Southdown Show (2013), Lincoln Show (2014), Navajo Churro Show (2010, 2011, 2015), several Shetland AGMs (NASSA Annual Meeting), and the NE Regional Jacob Show is always held at the Festival.
Gus: Pretend you’re talking to someone who has never been to your fiber festival, what would you highlight as your “WOW” attractions?
Andrea: Check out the rare breeds on exhibit and being shown. The public normally would never see many of the breeds that can be seen at our festival. Exact breeds vary year to year but the following have been on exhibit: Gotland, Coopworth, Cotswold, Lincoln, Tunis, Jacob, California Variegated Mutant (Romeldale CVM), Navajo Churro, Cormo, California Red, Icelandic, Finn, American Mini Cheviot, Shetland, Romney, Baby doll Southdown.
There is a Parade of Breeds each day at mid-day in the show ring. Find out what makes each breed special at the Breed Exhibit.
The Shepherd’s Lead Contest cannot be missed – contestants lead a fiber animal while wearing something they’ve made from 100% natural fibers. Extra points if the animal is accessorized with hand made items and if the animal is owned by the contestant.
Our festival hosts the largest Jacob Sheep Show in the Northeast. Check out all those 4-horned beauties! The Garden State Sheep and Fiber Festival hosts the largest fleece show and sale in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and includes anywhere from 150 to 180 fleeces most years.
Do’s and Don’ts for the Garden State Sheep and Fiber Festival
DO touch, ask questions and be prepared to be amazed at all you can learn about fiber from our knowledgeable members.
DO plan to be outdoors. The festival is mostly under cover but the barns are open on the sides.
DON’T bring dogs – sheep find them scary and the sheep are our guests of honor at the festival.
The 24th Annual Garden State Sheep and Fiber Festival
Hunterdon County Fairgrounds
1207 NJ Route 179
Lambertville NJ 08530
September 8th, 9am – 5pm
September 9th, 9am – 4pm
For more information, see their website: http://njsheep.net/festival/
Find a list of festivals in the United States and Canada at www.spinweave.org/news-events/festivals. Find related Interweave posts on Fiber Festivals!
Updated August 7, 2018.
Use Those Festival Goods on Your Next Project!