California Wool and Fiber Festival: Celebrating Romney

The mission of the California Wool and Fiber Festival (CWFF) has long been to support textile crafts and natural fiber production. The event will be held September 16‒18, 2016 and is a wonderful mix of local fiber producers, fiber artists, and craftspeople vending and demonstrating their skills. Organizers pack the event schedule each year because they believe CWFF is a great opportunity to “educate the visiting public about natural fibers and their importance to our community and culture.”

Just look at that Romney crimp! Photo courtesy of Ace Vandenack.

Just look at that Romney crimp! Photo courtesy of Ace Vandenack.

The festival is held each year in conjunction with the Mendocino County Fair and Apple Show and hosts the California National Wool Show. About 250 fleece entries arrive from all over the country to join the competition. Organizer Nancy Finn says that each fleece exhibitor designates whether or not each entry is for sale. About 75% of the fleece entries are marked for sale, making the festival a favorite among wool-loving handspinners near and far.

Romney is British breed that thrives in a variety of environments. Photo courtesy of Ace Vandenack.

Romney is British breed that thrives in a variety of environments. Photo courtesy of Ace Vandenack.

Each year, CWFF features a different sheep breed, and Romney has received this special honor for 2016. An award will be presented for best Romney fleece in September. You can learn more about the Romney breed on the festival website. The breed has been popular in the West Coast States since the early 1900s and was used to develop the famed Romeldale and California Variegated Mutant (CVM).

Ace Vandenack with one of his award winning fleeces. Photo courtesy of Ace Vandenack.

Ace with one of his award winning fleeces. Photo courtesy of Ace Vandenack.

California shepherd Ace Vandenack has been raising award-winning white and natural colored Romney sheep for more than twenty years. He has produced national-champion fleeces, and he exhibits at Black Sheep Gathering, the North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE), and Maryland Sheep and Wool. Ace loves the Romney breed. He had this to share:

“I have raised many breeds of sheep over the years but Romney is, by far, my favorite breed. The Romney breed is well suited for the area where I live because they are well adapted to high rain fall areas, are resistant to foot rot, and have the best disposition of any breed I have ever raised. I love the long-stapled, high-luster fleeces of the Romney, and it is the favorite of beginning handspinners. I totally enjoy raising Romney sheep and showing them and their fleeces at the shows. I am also an accomplished hand spinner and I am ‘never not spinning.’”

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