The Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival

The Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival is the premiere fiber festival in the northeast. Explore every corner of the fiber world during this two-day festival; world-class designers teach classes on basics and specialty techniques, farmers bring their livestock for shows and sales, and vendors provide the most unique items for your crafts. Sara Healy, the festival committee chairman, spoke with me about what makes her festival truly special. Take it from me: do not miss the Artichokes French!

Gus: Give me the overview and a brief history of the Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival.

Sara: The festival was established in 1980 as a sheep sale. Over the intervening years the event has evolved into the premier fiber festival in the country featuring over 300 juried fiber craft vendors, livestock shows and educational displays, workshops, a fleece sale, culinary demonstrations focusing on lamb and sheep’s milk products as primary ingredients and specialty food vendors. The festival ALWAYS takes place on the third full weekend in October, meaning both Saturday and Sunday fall within the month of October.

Rhinebeck sheep

Get to know the animals that give us the luxurious wool we love to work with.

Gus: Pretend you talking to someone who has never been to your fiber festival, what would you highlight as your “WOW” attractions?

Sara: Simply put, the majority of attendees are there for the shopping. So, the huge diversity of product availability, as well as something for any budget—large or small—makes the event a must do! Livestock shows, Sheep Breeds Display Barn, and our Exotic Fiber Animals Barn are very popular venues. In addition, the festival offers a great variety of high quality food vendors and a specialty foods building chock full of wine, beer, cheese and bakery items. This year, a ‘Must See” is Les Moutons. The Canadian dance troupe ‘Corpus” is performing a surrealistic pantomime of the everyday lives of sheep!

Rhinebeck sheep

Explore many different varieties of sheep and how their fleece creates different wools.

Gus: What are your biggest festival do’s and don’ts for enjoying your fiber festival?


Do plan on spending at least one day, and possibly two, in order to see all the Festival offers.

Do plan your itinerary ahead of time by checking the on-line schedule so you are sure not to miss something of interest.

Do bring along cash. While most vendors accept credit cards, there are still some smaller farms that do not. ATM machines, while available on site, sometimes have long lines. Transactions at vendor booths can sometimes be expedited with cash.

Do wear comfortable shoes and dress in layers.

Do wear a handmade item, a sweater, shawl, scarf, or hat, to show off!

Don’t forget to get your tickets online to avoid waiting in line at the gate.

Don’t miss out trying the Artichokes French!

Rhinebeck sheep
Dutchess County Fairgrounds
6550 Spring Brook Ave
Rhinebeck, NY 12572

Saturday October 21, 2017, 9am – 5pm
Sunday October 22, 2017, 9am – 4pm

Yours in yarn,
Gus C. Baxter

Find a list of festivals in the United States and Canada at Find related Interweave posts on Fiber Festivals!

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