Sunday, May 2, 2010

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

The long awaited day was finally here. Jill arrived and she and I went to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. (Ryan is visiting his parents, brother and Dominic in the British Virgin Islands so missed out.) This is the 37th year of what claims to be the largest festival of its kind in America. We were prepared to experience the full thing...

...but not so prepared for parking. Since the weather was bright and sunny (the first weekend in a long time), and the temperature was over 90, the crowds were out in mass. We first saw the long line of cars several miles away from the fairgrounds. Took us about an hour to park as we inched forward in line. The Boy Scouts were making a valiant effort to direct cars, but were not prepared for the swarms.

Just like at the fair, you can show your sheep in various ways. We wandered around the barns and marveled at all the different varieties and admired the ribbons. One of the contests was for shearing the sheep and then the wool was judged. It was being auctioned off while we were there.

Lots of people shearing and preparing their sheep for show.

This sheep was funny. He didn't seem to mind the attention and was nibbling on the guy's pocket. Having less wool felt much cooler, I'm sure. Did I mention it was really, really hot!

Jill pointed out how interesting it was that not just their wool, but their face shapes and facial hair was really different, here they didn't have any.

Couldn't see the faces on these, but check out those curls!

We'd wandered through some of the vendor halls and decided it was time for lunch. How to decide? There were so many amazing lamb preparations. We finally decided on Lamb Burgers, but it was a tough decision.

Lamb on a pit smelled amazing.

It was time for the sheepdog demonstration. Two people and four dogs put a herd of sheep through various paces. We learned about how to train the dogs and give them directions and watched them move the sheep.

Every time the sheep would try to make for the trailer the dog would quickly get in front of them and turn them back where they needed to be.

After the dog had moved the group where they needed to be, he would lay down and wait for the next instructions.

The fun thing with this demo is the sheep did not belong to the people giving the demo and some were young, so they were not used to having to behave and you really got to see how the dog worked to control them. Ended with getting them to do figure eights around two cones in the middle of the ring.

Back to the barns. This one has some fun spots, but was not thrilled to be stuck.

I like the hair on these.

One of the award winners for best ram.

We were extremely restrained on our buying but did come home with a few good things. I agreed with someone we overheard saying it was too hot to think about knitting. Was really interesting to see everything that is associated with the industry. From spinning wheels to fleeces to fences for your sheep, you could buy almost anything.

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