One of my favorite parts about the New York Sheep and Wool Festival is the festival portion. While I love showing my sheep, I spend a lot of the weekend wandering barn after barn of crafts. If you've never been, it's a hard thing to explain. Picture your local county fairgrounds, only more beautiful, and picture every single barn filled with yarn, yarn, yarn, more yarn, needles, spinning wheels and things you never even knew existed as part of the fiber arts world! Huge, ancient, colorful maple trees line the walkways of the fairgounds and there are gardens at every corner. Vendor after vendor of gorgeous colors and textures. And it isn't just yarn, but hand woven towels, gorgeous felted purses, and goat soaps and cheeses. If you aren't into fiber arts, you can head up to the main exhibition hall where you can spend time sampling sauces, dips, cheeses, desserts, candies, fudge, wines and vodkas. While in the exhibition hall, you can also see the make it yourself with wool fashion competition or the photography contest. You can also cast your vote for next year's logo.
The weekend after Columbus Day in October marks one of my favorite weekends of the year: The New York State Sheep and Wool Festival! This festival is held at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, which has to be the most beautiful fairgrounds in the state. It consists of a sheep show, fiber vendors and contests, delicious food and more. This is the last time of the year that we show our sheep, and the last time we see many of our sheep friends before the winter. This year we took six sheep to show. Unfortunately, I had an interview on Sunday so I wasn't able to stay for the show, but my awesome friend Anna stayed with my parents to get the showing done. I was bummed, since this was the second show this fall I missed (I was in the UK during the Big E), but was glad I got one day to enjoy the festival and get the sheep ready.
Again, I apologize for the delay in posting about the last couple days of my trip!
Today, my last full day in the U.K. was the day I was looking forward to the most! I have been following the Risby Flock of Lincoln Longwools since I first heard about their flock after Louise's wool wedding dress made international news! Get ready for photo overload!
We headed from York to a little village in Lincolnshire called Market Rasen. This was just over an hour and half to the southeast. We headed over the Humber Bridge, a very large suspension bridge and into Lincolnshire. The views were amazing and the agriculture larger than other areas we traveled to throughout the week. We drove through the little village of Market Rasen and down several very small curvy roads before catching our first glimpse of Risby Grange. From what people who had been on this trip before said, finding them was much easier this time!
Upon arriving at their drive, we headed up a long lane up a hill surrounded by sheep pastures. We got out of the bus and were on top of a hill overlooking Lincolnshire, with the Lincoln Cathedral peaking out of the horizon. I kept thinking (as I have been all week), “Is this even real???!!!”. When we first arrived, we had tea together and Louise shared with us the history of their flock.
First of all, I apologize for the delay in this post! Exhaustion and the second leg of my trip got the better of me, followed by catching up on work upon my return. But I didn’t want everyone to miss out on my last two days. Next, I apologize for the technicality and numbers of this post! I learned SO MUCH from this day and wanted to record it all for U.S. producers who may be interested in how the U.K. wool marketing is done. We don’t have anything like this in the states, so I was fascinated by how organized and successful this system seems. Feel free to scroll through the photos if you’re not into the technicalities of wool marking!
Today we headed south to the city of Bradford to visit the British Wool Marketing Board. This cooperative handles 90% of the wool in the UK through a series of depots throughout the country, but only makes up for 2% of the global market. The main depot and the Wool Board headquarters are located in Bradford. When we walked into the headquarters, there were beautiful wool products everywhere; a display with a wool suit, an amazing chair upholstered with knit wool fabric. We headed into a conference room to hear a presentation about the Wool Board, its history and its purpose.
Emmaline Long, main owner of Orchard View Farm, is currently a graduate student in the Animal Science dept. at Cornell University. She has a passion for Lincoln sheep, and loves educating others about her breed and farm, as serves as the Vice President of the National Lincoln Breeders Association.
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