The 2008 Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival
Howard County Fairgrounds
West Friendship, Maryland
May 3-4, 2008
The End of Innocence
Spirit Trail Fiberworks booth early Saturday morning, word spread over the PA system that that the Optic Waves Shawl from my book had just been stolen from the Brooks Farm Yarn booth. It was a sad and sobering way to begin what was supposed to be a joyous event. Unfortunately, this proved to be the first of several incidents that shook vendors and festival organizers.
This year, the rapidly advancing "outside world" finally hit the festival itself as a string of thefts and acts of vandalism left many wondering if one of our largest and most treasured annual gatherings was still safe and secure.
The Feeding Frenzy
Groups assembled for other types of gatherings, too.Ravelry members assembled to cheer Jess and Casey, meet one another, and write their names on Ravelry buttons so they could identify one another throughout the weekend.
And in the next building, sheep were being crowded into pens and prepared for judging.
Meeting the Animals
...and they roamed the fairgrounds, popping up when you least expected them.
Alas, sheep also popped up in a few other places too. The full cycle of life tends to be especially evident at these events.
Eyeing the Crowd
When so many knitters gather together in one place, it's an easy way to spot knitting trends. And if this particular festival is any indication, lace would have to be the hot ticket in knitting right now—seconded by socks, which were a little trickier to spot in the wild. Everywhere I looked—in booths, in the skein and garment competition, and on people—I saw lace.
Still Finding Fleece
Fibers from each fleece were further inspected in an electronic microscope by this gentleman in the white lab coat.
On Saturday afternoon I got to meet new KR faces, greet old KR friends, and sign copies of my book. I was so busy enjoying the moment that I forgot to take pictures except for a few snapshots, which you can see on Flickr through the thumbnails at left.
The Worries Return
Sunday began on another sobering note. Overnight, hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise had been stolen from several vendor booths in the main building and the nearby barns. Cash registers had been pried open, and all the goat pens and rabbit doors had been opened. Thankfully all the animals were safely found and recaptured.
Some theft is to be expected anywhere. But the degree to which this year's event was violated left a lot of people—attendees and vendors alike—feeling disheartened and worried. Some items were clearly stolen for their cash value alone, but others would've held no value at the local pawn shop—they could only have been attractive to a knitter.
Festival organizers (remember, this is a volunteer-run effort) are now faced with the challenge of restoring safety without taking measures that would permanently change the face of this very special event.Talk about this event in our forums
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