Experiential Learning this Weekend at the Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair

Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair this Memorial Day Weekend at the Cummington Fairgrounds

Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair provides children with the opportunity to learn experientially about portions of agriculture, art, and the manufacturing of small-scale goods that are important both within our history here in western Massachusetts, and in our current modern culture as well.

There’s a lot more to sheep than fancy sweaters and toasty warm socks – and the upcoming Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair has got it all! From shearing to spinning, raising to eating, showing to herding, the Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair will showcase all things sheep-related. A visit to the fair can bring lots of animal-induced excitement, spark creativity, satisfy curiosity, and inspire all kinds of learning.

Held over Memorial Day weekend (Saturday and Sunday, May 25th and 26th) at the Cummington Fairgrounds, the fair offers many different ways to learn about raising sheep, sheep-derived products, and the many different creative ways in which fleece is used today. Not only will there be lots of sheep on hand to observe (and pat, if you’re prepared to get lanolin on your fingers!), but there will also be sheep shown in many different categories by both adults and children. Families can also learn about the role of dogs in raising sheep, as sheep herding demonstrations will take place throughout the weekend. By watching farmers and their well-trained dogs move sheep around the field, families can learn about the hard work that goes into such a practice. Such styles of herding have been used by shepherds all around the world for hundreds of years, and it’s an important part of our global agricultural history.

In addition to the live animals on hand, families can also explore a wide variety of displays from farmers, artists, and craftsmen whose product relies on sheep-derived materials. Many of the fairgrounds’ barns will house tables filled with felted wool creations, hand-knitted pieces, beautiful yarns and fleeces, and tools and materials for knitting, felting, dying, spinning, weaving, and doing anything else you can think of with wool! 

To further visitors’ learning, the festival’s schedule includes a wide variety of workshops for both children and adults throughout the weekend. While kids can sign up for a workshop in weaving, dyeing, spinning, or felting in order to learn more about woolcraft, adults can gain skills needle felting, spinning on a drop spindle, wet felting, or Fair Isle knitting. While adult workshops are geared towards those with some experience working with yarn or fleece, responsible teens with these skills and experience, as well as a true desire to learn, are likely welcome to participate alongside other older knitters, felters, and spinners.

A visit to the fair provides children with the opportunity to learn experientially about portions of agriculture, art, and small-scale goods manufacturing that are important both within our history here in western Massachusetts, and in our current modern culture as well. Additionally, families can extend their sheep-related learning once they get home to include a look at fiber arts from around the world, and the many different animals from which fiber is harvested. Check out Charles Blood’s The Goat in the Rug or Helen von Ammon’s How to Spin a Rabbit for inspiration!

The fair will take place from 9am-5pm on Saturday, May 25th and from 9am-4pm on Sunday, May 26th (though Sheep Dog Trials begin at 8am on both days). Admission to the fair is $10 per car, or families can pay $15 for a two-day pass. The Cummington Fairgrounds are located at 97 Fairgrounds Road in Cummington (less than a mile from Route 9).

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