Going Wild and Wooly at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

Wouldn’t ewe know it, but it was a rainy downpoury kind of day that we chose to attend the 2022 Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, held annually at the Howard County Fairgrounds. But after a pandemic-induced two year hiatus, it was well attended despite the gloomy day!

My sister lured me to go with her by promising I’ll get to see cute farm animals — limited, this time, to the woolly sheep variety, but interestingly, they come in all sorts of sheeps and sizes (I crack myself up). In addition, she’s an expert knitting craftswoman, and often she’ll offer to let me pick out beautiful skeins and shawl patterns for future birthday or holiday gifts.

I’m not a knitter myself — I get hung up on casting on (I forget how because I just don’t do it often enough) and I’ve sort of given up trying, at least for now.

But when I see all the beautiful, hand-dyed skeins and dyed in the wool batches I start wanting to learn to work with that beautiful wool myself. Believe it or not, “dyed in the wool” is not a pun — “dyed in the wool” is a real thing, meaning dyed BEFORE it’s spun into yarn.

The festival started in 1974 as the Sheep and Wool Crafts Festival, evolving into the “all things sheep” that it is today with new events or demonstrations added each year. This year creative shearing competition was added. We missed that competition, although we saw a colorful sheep with flowers sculpted into its coat.

There are sheep of all shapes, sizes and colors — fascinated by the expressions on some of them. There was a goofy looking satanic sheep with four horns and a severe underbite. Kinda wanted to take it home! The Parade of Sheep Breeds and the Sheep Breeds Display help showcase the variety of sheep.

I found the fiber arts demonstrations interesting — I watched an artist spin her wool for a few minutes! There are also a variety of competitions, from spinning to shearing to sheep herding trials to “from sheep to shawl” competitions, in which a team of five shear the sheep, spin the fleece and weave it into a shawl in just a couple of hours.

as well as a variety of venders, from wool and fleece to knitting and spinning accessories to native plants, as well as a variety of crafts. My sister, who’s familiar with the skein dyeing and knitting world, recognized several vendors and individuals there who have popular podcasts about knitting or dyeing wool, as well as several pattern-designers.

If you get hungry, you’re in luck — there are a variety of food trucks to provide you fattening sustenance, including several that offered lamb dishes!

Despite the rain and the ankle deep mud in places, this was a really fun way to spend an afternoon! All’s wool that ends wool!

Getting there: Howard County Fairgrounds at 2210 Fairgrounds Road, West Friendship, MD
Hours: (Edited) The first full weekend in May; Saturday 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Website: MD Sheep and Wool Festival

One Reply to “Going Wild and Wooly at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival”

  1. It is ALWAYS the first full weekend in May!

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