Right at the beginning of May, I took the train down to Wilmington, Delaware, to meet my friend Heather. We had a most glorious weekend planned - the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival! Heather taught me how to knit, and is probably the most talented textile person I know. She had been to Sheep & Wool before, and so we could make a most effective Plan of Action for the day.
Heather, in one of the many many vendor areas. By this time, we've each already purchased enough yarn to make at least one sweater and a shawl - this was maybe thirty minutes into the day.
You could purchase entire fleeces, sheared right off the sheep, to cart away and do with what you will. Neither of us was tempted by these, as they're still full of lanolin and bits of leaves and other sheepy things.
A substantial stretch of fair food, much of which was lamb-based.
There were also loads of sheep! All different breeds of wool-sheep. (These are not sheep for eating). I don't know very much about the various breeds of sheep, excepting that several have the same names as English cheeses, so I surmise that a sheep and a cheese that share a name must have originated in the same county?
The different types of sheep have very different types of wool, and not just different color-wise. The wools behave differently and are best-suited for different uses. Which is pretty cool.
Sheep shearing stations were scattered about.
This sheep is wearing a jacket so that it won't dirty its wool.
So cute! There were barns and barns of sheep, brought in by shepherds from all over.
Heather is an occasional shepherdess, and as such, knows the Ways of the Sheep. She said that you can't pat them on the head, that they get confused and then try to head-butt. (This is true: I tried patting and received a gentle head-butt.) But that they really like to be scratched beneath the chin. You can tell: this sheep's eyes have gone all cat-like, and it looks to be smiling.
Heather works her sheepy-magic.
One sheep had wool just like my hair.
There were baby sheep too. Lambs, I supposed you'd call them...
This is a sheep! With so many horns! It looks so self-satisfied.
Alpacas. Sooo soft, and they look like Dr. Seuss creatures.
This is a real animal. Not a Who from down Who-ville.
Baby mohair goat.
This is a real bunny. No joking. A French angora.
Sheep dog demonstrations! The dogs had a little herd of five sheep that they managed through various obstacles.
The sheep dogs in question were border collies, and though I love black labs (the most) and think them very smart, these border collies were possibly the smartest dogs I'd ever seen.
Two shepherds demonstrated with their own teams of dogs. The shepherds essentially just stood there and gave the dogs simple verbal commands about what the herd needed to do.
Heather and I returned to Delaware with a reasonable about of beautiful yarn and some other fun fibery items, and ended our day with a chill Cinco de Mayo with her husband Dan.
In summary, Heather and Dan (both of whom are always invited to Philly, especially if yarn, costume dramas, and/or eating is involved) were wonderful hosts and the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival was such an excellent experience. It has all the awesome of the county fair (including milkshakes and root beer floats) with out any of the demolition derbies!