At the Fiber Festival: How to Shop at Sheep and Wool Festivals
It’s the highlight of many a fiber lover’s year: the fiber festival. Call it a wool market, sheep show, or whatever you like, a regional gathering of fiber producers and fiber artists is uniquely exciting, and it’s best to go with a plan. Here’s how to shop at sheep and wool festivals when you want to bring home goodies.
Get there early.
Many fiber festivals have lines outside the gate in the hour before the show officially opens. Some popular booths will have crowds and lines within minutes of the gates opening. (Needless to say, shop the first day.)
Do your homework.
Most festivals post a list of their vendors in advance. If there are booths you’d like to see, go there first. You can even contact vendors in advance and ask if they can bring something special that you have in mind.
Bring an extra bag.
Some vendors will have polished and spacious bags, while others may have minimal packaging. Make sure you don’t lose a precious small purchase in overfull hands.
Bring business cards and a pen.
In the frenzy of shopping, you might wind up with a bag of fiber and a handwritten receipt that doesn’t have the name of the vendor. Take a card from the vendor and jot down notes on the receipt so you’ll remember what you bought when you get all your goodies home.
Bring a checkbook and cash!
More and more vendors have mobile credit card readers, but some still do not (and the Internet connection can always go out). Checks are generally accepted and in some cases preferred, but cash is the gold standard.
Plan for more than one pass.
Sure, some items will be so special that they’ll be snapped up before you know it, but when comparing notes with other shoppers, you may find something you overlooked the first time.
Don’t forget the fleece show.
If you have a particular kind of fleece in mind, get there early. Some people have even been known to meet up with trusted shepherds just before the show to have first pick. Natural colors and rare breeds are often the first to go.
Watch for equipment deals.
Spinners who have wheels, drumcarders, and other tools to sell may put up signs at the event. Some of these may be available to take home right there and then.
Make a plan for hauling home.
Fiber is voluminous. Spinning wheels are even more so. If you carpooled with three other people in a compact car and each of you buys three fleeces, you may be sitting on fleece all the way home.
Featured image: Illustration by Laurel Johnson.
Find a list of festivals in the United States and Canada at www.spinweave.org/news-events/festivals.
Find related Interweave posts on upcoming festivals here:
Great Lakes Fiber Show
OK Fiber Fest!
Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival
Minnesota Knitter’s Guild Yarnover
Yellow Rose Fiber Producers Fiesta
Ann Arbor’s Fiber Expo
Welcome to the Long Island Yarn Crawl
The Smokey Mountain Fiber Arts Fair
The Yarn Show: Chicago YarnCon
Behold the Yarn Crawl: Dos and Don’ts