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Massachusetts Hosting Sheep to Shawl Fiber Festival

On Saturday, May 4 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation will host its 10th annual Sheep to Shawl Festival at its Sheep Hill headquarters. The festival will continue on Sunday, May 5 with in-depth workshops taught by local farmers, authors and community members. The Sheep to Shawl Festival is a celebration of spring and New England heritage, with time-honored crafts, local artisans, farm animals, and a focus on the region’s historic fleece and fiber industry. For the 10th year, the legendary Fred DePaul will spin stories while shearing sheep with traditional tools. Shepherds Kristen Whittle and Wendy Warner will demonstrate herding sheep up and around the steep meadows of Sheep Hill using their skilled border collies. Local farms will bring sheep, alpacas, and calves along with delicious home-grown and locally produced foods for tasting and purchasing.

The Green Mountain Weavers & Spinners Guild will demonstrate carding, spinning, and weaving throughout the day, along with rug-hooking demonstrations, and will raffle off a completed shawl made at last year’s event. There will be fiber-arts and printing-on-cloth crafts projects for children and enthusiastic adults.

Local artisans will show and sell their wares. This year’s craft offerings include basketry, pottery, one-of-a-kind clothing and accessories, jewelry, and sheep and alpaca fiber products.
Local painters will be out-in-the-fields landscape painting.

Sheep Hill’s traditional soup kitchen will serve a variety of homemade soups, while Wild Oats Market and Cricket Creek farm will offer fresh breads, cheeses, sandwiches and other delicious edibles available for purchase.

Tickets for Sheep to Shawl can be purchased at the gate. Non-member tickets prices are $5 per individual and $10 per family. WRLF members and those who come by bicycle pay $3 per individual and $6 per family. Become a WRLF member at the gate and receive free admission! All are welcome to enter their admission tickets in a Sheep to Shawl raffle for a locally produced prize basket. Proceeds from the Sheep to Shawl Festival support the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation and its public programming.

In the second half of the heritage weekend, half and full-day workshops will be offered at Sheep Hill on Sunday, May 5. Morning and afternoon sessions include yarn dyeing with "Kangaroo Dyer" Gail Callahan and introduction to bee keeping with Alethea Morrison and Mars Vilaubi. The featured speaker is Jennifer Trainer Thompson discussing raising chickens and egg production during the local foods lunch. Learn to make twig garden accessories such as trellises in an all-day workshop with Art Evans. A half-day session and lunch is $40, $25 for WRLF members. Two sessions, or all-day rustic garden accessory design and building workshop costs $75 including materials and lunch, $60 WRLF members.

Free shuttle parking for Saturday’s event is available at the former Taconic Restaurant at the junction of Route 2 and 7, just south of Sheep Hill, and at neighboring Mezze Restaurant’s lower parking lot. Parking for Sunday is on-site at Sheep Hill.

The Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation is a non-profit, member-supported land conservation trust working to preserve the rural New England character of the north Berkshire region. It offers programs in natural and cultural history year-round at Sheep Hill and other conservation properties. Sheep Hill is located on Route 7, approximately one mile south of the Williamstown rotary.

For more information: www.wrlf.org or call 413-458-2494.