And gather people did, packing the parking lots and neighboring fields for this free event presented by the Midwest Festival of Fibers.
“Wear comfortable shoes and be ready to walk and look at lots of great stuff. Bring a big bag!,” the organizer suggested. No wonder! Over 80 vendors were on hand, tempting fiber-lovers with hand-spun and hand-dyed wool yarns; yarn and fiber from various breeds of sheep and alpacas; Angora rabbits and Angora spinning fiber; knitting patterns; tools and accessories for knitting, spinning, weaving and rug-hooking; hand-crafted shawl pins and ceramic buttons; handmade soaps; hand-woven baskets; sheep-themed artwork and more.
I filled my bag with needle-felted creations by Suzy Johnson of Sheared Bliss, who packaged my purchases in a Halloween treat sack.
Best of all were the embroidered merino wool hair clips, jewelry and accessories made by Melissa Davison of Sew Sweet Stitches. I could have taken home all of her merchandise!
As I made our way through the tents, I saw how an antique Légaré circular sock machine cranked out knitted socks in no time. I watched members of knitting, spinning and weaving guilds teach their crafts. A basket-maker showed how to cane a chair seat. Earlier in the weekend, Abby Franquemont, author of Respect the Spindle: Spin Infinite Yarns with One Amazing Tool, offered spindle spinning classes.
I said hello to sheep,
alpacas and llamas,
…and angora rabbits.
A sheep shearer explained and demonstrated the Australian method of shearing sheep. As the shearer worked, this compliant little sheep shot so many soulful glances at me that I felt so embarrassed for her that I could hardly watch.
I could have sworn that a man was using my shrill little Country Living Fair tin whistle to make his herding dog guide ducks around an obstacle course and into a pool of water.
The last time I visited Young’s, it was a blustery, gloomy January day, too cold for exploring beyond the Golden Jersey Inn and its tasty homestyle meals. Yesterday, I discovered that Young’s has two miniature golf courses, a driving range, batting cages and a 30-foot three-lane slide. I also learned that over 50 flavors of ice cream are made at Young’s. I squeezed inside The Dairy Store for a dip of Black Walnut ice cream that was right up there with what I always order at Colonial Williamsburg’s Golden Horseshoe Golf Club’s Gold Course Grill.
Visit Young’s Jersey Dairy for its annual fall farm pumpkin festival (October 5-6), to pick your own pumpkins (through October 20) and explore the cornfield maze (weekends through October 27). If you go, consider skipping the freeway and take state routes to see sites like Elmwood Place, a historic farmstead located along State Route 161 near the community of Irwin in Union County. With an Italianate-style brick farmhouse dating from 1868, a carriage house, a large barn, smaller sheds, and a cottage for tenant farmers, it’s one of Union County’s best examples of 19th-century rural architecture. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Click here to see a picture of the farmhouse.
A Wool Gathering will return to Young’s Jersey Dairy on September 20 and 21, 2014.