Rhinebeck: All the Everythings

Once upon a time, long, long ago, in the eighth decade of the last century, shepherds in Duchess County, NY, gathered at the local fairgrounds to buy and sell ewes, with an eye towards enhancing their breeding lines.

two sheeps

“Food? No food, Ok, we get that, sure. How about snacks? Cheerios? What’s your skirt made of, that might be tasty…”

Three decades later, herds and flocks of wool folk of all shapes, sizes, and colours descend upon the lovely town of Rhinebeck each October to attend the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival, affectionately known to fiber folk as simply “Rhinebeck”. For a few short days, shepherds and sheepdogs, fleece folk and meat folk, knitters and crocheters, spinners, weavers and basket makers all come together to celebrate the joys of Things Sheep and Things Wool.

Lotsa peeps in da barn

All The People and some of All the Things.

This year, on Saturday alone, the fairgrounds hosted somewhere around 43,000 people, breaking all prior attendance records across sheep and wool festivals from sea to shining sea, as far north as Alberta and as far south as México.


Can you tell that it is lunchtime?

I was Attendee #43,001; and I freely admit that I and 43,000 of my closest friends had a truly grand time.

Peeps in da barn 2

A slightly less busy moment in the vendor barns.

Writing about my festival experiences has always been a bit of a puzzle for me. How on earth do I write about two days which contain a month’s worth of meeting old friends and new; of petting hundreds of skeins of yarn, each one more beautiful than the last; of gazing into the wide eyes belonging to creatures whose coats make fingers sing and bodies warm? The sheer volume of sensory input offered up at Rhinebeck is enough to dazzle even the most jaded of bloggers, the most savvy of yarn and fiber shoppers.

Goatie 1

Everywhere you look, there is colour: The trees! The vendor booths! All those amazing hand-knit sweaters, all the artistry of handwoven cloth and handspun yarn, all the hours of work and the buckets-full of creative energy resulting in shawls, stoles, capes, ponchos, pullovers, socks, leggings, mittens, Hats!, dresses, skirts, tops, cardigans, and handmade coats whose hems left small trails through the crunchy carpet of fallen leaves that Mom Nature had laid out to welcome us.

Trees of colour

More than once, I found myself standing still, a river of colorfully dressed fiber folk breaking into twin streams on either side of me, as I gaped at the sheer OhMyBob of it all.


If you are on Ravelry and post in the forums, chances are good that you have a “home forum”. This year, as we did last year, members of my home forum designated a picnic table as a meet-up location; various people volunteered to “woman the picnic table” and act as texting contacts, so that we could easily find each other.

Picnic table 1

Several times throughout the weekend, I wandered over to be surrounded by the friends who live in my computer. Long-promised hugs were finally traded, adventures shared, bags of goodies opened to gloat over purchases with old friends one has only just met.

Nao at table    Georg is not a vikingRachel dawn    Marcy laughed

I think that our meetup table must have been a little bit like the place just inside the Pearly Gates, where we joyfully recognize the loved ones we have never seen.

Maggie and woolizard

I have more Rhinebeck Stories to tell, but those will wait for another day.

I'm a goat. I'm hungry. But then, I am a goat. I am always hungry.

I’m a goat. I’m hungry. But then, I am a goat. I am always hungry.

It was truly a delight to be amongst my Tribe: All of them, thumbs, waggy-tails, horns and all.

Casey, Ultimate Frisbee Champ

Casey, Ultimate Frisbee Champ

One small Chispa for now… Back Then…I wrote about my Top Ten Reasons to Attend A Wool Festival, back in 2010 when I was KD Sandi, Founding Editor of Knitting Daily.

About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. Quilter. UFO Wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. Two toddler-age kittens, 1 permakitten, 2 grownup cats, 1 beloved dog angel, 1 spouse, 1 crazy life. I suppose that the 5 cats make me 1 crazy cat lady; OTOH, apparently, yes, I do need that much feline supervision.
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7 Responses to Rhinebeck: All the Everythings

  1. InJuneau says:

    Some day…some day!


  2. Lee says:

    Wonderful that you made it to Rhinebeck! It’s a bit too large for me (43,001 people! Oh wow) but I do enjoy smaller shows like the Great Lakes (Wooster, OH), which I’ve attended for several years, and Shenandoah Valley (Berryville, VA – this was my first visit) Fiber Festivals. They really are incredible, eye-opening days of fun.


  3. Liz says:

    ❤️❤️❤️ Sorry about the verklemptness!


  4. Cath says:

    Beautiful post.


  5. Meg says:

    What a great post – you sounded so upbeat and just plain ol’ happy! And thanks for referencing that old Knitting Daily post. Was that really five years ago? Already???
    The weather appears to have been delightful, and yes, what a feast for the eyes and the spirit. xxxx


  6. gala23 says:

    I swear I wasn’t flipping you off! Clearly, I use my ‘social finger’ to butterfly yarn while spinning. 😀 *smooches*


  7. Angie says:

    Love your writing, Sandi. All of it. Your words bring peace to my anxious mind.

    Liked by 1 person

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