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Rhinebeck Recap


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The New York Sheep and Wool Festival (referred to as “Rhinebeck” by fiber people for the town it’s held in) is pretty much my happy place. It’s my Comic Con. It’s the largest fiber festival in the US, and I was so happy to be able to return this year.

The festival is held at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, NY in mid to late October every year. That means in addition to fiber joy, you also get beautiful fall colors. The weather can variable, but this year was warm if a little dizzily.

Normally the festival draws about 30,000 people each day, but this year was capped at 10,000 people a day due to the pandemic. There were fewer vendors onsite and workshops were virtual only. The event is held outdoors with the vendors set up in barns or out-buildings.

10,000 people is still A LOT, and by far the most people I’ve been near in two years. I found by the end of Saturday I was wiped. We didn’t make it back for day two until well into the afternoon either.

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This was the line to get in day 1. It extends back to those trees.

So why do I love the festival so much? Well for one thing, it’s a great place to do some shopping. There are larger dyers like Miss Babs and also small farms that sell yarn, roving, knitting and spinning supplies. You’ll also find really beautiful pottery, project bags, notions, and some food items like locally made honey and jams.

The biggest joy about Rhinebeck, though, is about being around people who love the same things I do and speak the same language. People who attend proudly wear their knitwear, and many make a sweater specifically for Rhinebeck each year. Fiber people, in my experience, also tend to be kind. It’s a two day festival of complimenting strangers on their sweaters and shawls, and making new friends and meeting up with people you might only talk to online the rest of the year.

Thinking of going in 2022? Here are my tips.

Accessibility: The grounds offer handicapped parking, but it’s in a grass lot. There are no steps to climb, but much of the ground is uneven and there’s a fairly large hill. The event doesn’t offer scooter rentals, but you can bring your own. For the most part you’ll be standing on/ walking on concrete.

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A section of the fairgrounds.

Book early: This year was a little different due to the limited number of people allowed, but in the past hotel and Air BnB spaces have booked up quickly. I book my room in early spring if possible.

The food sitch: The food there is all fair food like gyros, pizza, burgers and the like. The lines for food are pretty long and a gyro is going to cost $13 and a can of Coke $3. You can’t bring food in, but you are allowed to leave the fairgrounds and then return (they stamp your hand). That way you can run your purchases to your car. There’s no rule that says you can’t pack a lunch or some snacks and eat in your car if you want to avoid the lines and the cost or if you have dietary restrictions.

I will say though, the apple cider donuts are pretty amazing.

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Bring cash: Why? Some vendors will offer a cash discount. There were also issues this year with the wifi/ cellular data crapping out and so periodically vendors could only take cash. I have no idea why, but our cell reception was terrible this trip, way worse than when I attended in 2018, and a lot of people had the same issue.

Wear washable shoes: because livestock. Also you can pet a lot of goats, sheep, bunnies, llamas, and occasionally an alpaca when they allow it.

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This alpaca was suspicious of my desire to pet him.

Plan your spending: The biggest vendors like Miss Babs, Into the Whirled and Neighborhood Fiber Co have crazy long lines on Saturday. Some of them have Rhinebeck-only colorways that you can only buy there.

BUT they all restock for Sunday. Sunday morning is much more chill so if you know what you want and show up right at opening, you can snag your yarn and fiber with almost no waiting in line.

Finally, are you ready for some yarn pr0n?

This was my score this year.

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This was my Sunday haul. The yarn and roving are both from Into the Whirled and the bags are from Three Bags Full.

I did not take my own advice and stood in long lines on Saturday to get my hands on some cool colors.

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The enormous purple/blue hank and the pink yarn were the Miss Bab’s colorways for this year. The brown on the left is Into The Whirled’s Rhinebeck colorway for the year and the green skeins are from them as well. The orange yarn on top is alpaca yarn from Lana Plantae and the three blue skeins in the middle are from Mt. Rusten Studio Yarns.

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Here’s a better picture of the autumnal colored, Outlander inspired sock yarn I got from Bumblebee Acres. The red is Drums of Autumn and the green is Fraser’s Ridge.

What about you? Have you ever been to Rhinebeck? Do you think you might go?

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