Headed out of town this summer in search of some fiber fun? For the past thirteen years, the members of the Wool Clip cooperative have organized the original British wool festival: Woolfest. Each year, hundreds of volunteers, venue staff, subcontractors, vendors, exhibitors, and fiber lovers gather at Mitchell’s Lakeland Livestock Centre in Cockermouth to rejoice in all things wool.
Conceived of in 2005, Woolfest was inspired by large American fiber festivals such as the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Since then, several other festivals have popped up around the United Kingdom in celebration of this treasured fiber.
Over the years, Woolfest has grown in its renown, even receiving a special message from the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, in 2014. Having reached capacity, the applicants for stall and exhibition space exceed the limits of the venue each year. Organizers actively try to maintain a fresh mix of well-known and up-and-coming sellers and exhibitors. New for 2017, Woolfest plans to showcase work from Eastern and Central Europe, and they have a few more surprises up their sleeves to delight attendees. Last year, Woolfest hosted a troop of professional puppeteers, who put on a production with Herdwick sheep and Border collie dogs.
Woolfest’s main emphasis has always been on highlighting rare and unusual breeds of sheep, especially those native to the British Isles. The raw-fleece sale attracts buyers from near and far, including Japan, Russia, Australia, and the United States. With the sounds of bleating sheep adding to the ambience of the festival, Woolfest is a must for spinners looking for a destination vacation.
Woolfest 2017 will be held June 23–24 (Friday and Saturday). To learn more, visit www.woolfest.co.uk.
Featured Image: Fiber lovers under festive banners check out the vendors and exhibitors. Images courtesy of Sally Seed.