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  • I start in the main barn at the bottom of the hill EARLY and work my way up to the top. We get there at 8:30. There is a vendor map on the S&W website to show you who is where. The food I’ve had is fairly typical fair food but there is lots of lamb to be had. The Miss Babs booth is in the back of the main barn so you have to work your way through that line to get to the other side, but it’s not difficult. There are not nearly as many places to sit as at Rhinebeck so sit when you see a spot!

    The weather is supposed to be lovely by This weekend, which it certainly is not now. Hope to see you there!

  • Have a great time! Also, if you haven’t already, that Rhinebeck guide would be awesome. First-time attendee in 2016. (If I were driving to MD I’d swing by & pick you up .)

  • I wish I could be there! Miss Babs!!

    As you can see, I have no help at all on either a ride or a guide. Just chipping in here to be envious.

  • I’ve never been to this one either. Looking forward to your report and snaps!

  • Every time you pass a portapotty, use it.
    No dainty shoes or heels.
    Sunscreen, hat.
    Placemat in your bag for sitting on the ground. Or risk a damp posterior.
    The animals are cool. Yes, there are a kajillion things to purchase, but spend time with the critters.

    Can’t wait to get there!!! It’s so much fun.

    • There are actually a couple of buildings with actual flush toilets, so you don’t have to use the portapotties. There’s one next to the main barn at the bottom of the hill, and another in the Fair Office building which is sort of in the middle of things. Here’s a link to the festival map: http://sheepandwool.org/info-faqs/festival-map/.

  • Be sure to check out the Skein and Garment competition – there’s always some very impressive knitting to be seen. The food lines are long, but the best ice cream is at the little Lions’ Club building. Don’t forget sunscreen!

  • Come by and see us at the Fleece sale. I’m told that we are expecting over 1,000 fleeces. It’s a great experience even if you don’t spin.

  • I started attending MS&W in the early 2000’s and it’s grown a lot since then. All of the above advice is good. Some folks bring folding chairs for sitting but I’ve usually been able to find a bench or a clean spot on the ground. The Miss Babs area is small and usually swamped with knitters. The barns are a lot of fun but watch where you step! There are also sheep dog demos. I attended Rhinebeck a few years ago and I find MS&W to be less crowded and easier to navigate. However, since it’s “local” I may be a little biased.

  • My must see spots: Kiparoo Farm (to the left as you enter, I go to see Annie – such a happy farmer – and for her cotton chenille that makes a wonderful baby blanket), Tess Yarns (back right) and Neighborhood Fiber Co (both for the colors, the glorious colors). If you keep kosher, take a lunch – there’s not much vegetarian fare. I love having my schlepper along, but Sandy is right that there aren’t many places for him to sit. His must see spot: the Pygmy goats. We’ll look for you on Sunday.

  • Arrive early. Use the vendor map and map a route. The border collie exhibition is always amazing and a good way to rest for a few minutes. Keep an eye out for the lady spinning directly from the angora rabbit in her lap. Wear layers and sunscreen. Sorry to miss this, but am in Italy at the moment, so not that sorry.

  • I’ve never been to Rhinebeck but coming from VA for the 2nd time!(sorry no ride here)

    Can’t imagine that it is different from Rhinebeck. Get a map, make sure the bank knows you’re there – so they don’t stop your credit card or get cash and set a budget. Have fun and enjoy !

  • I am no where near Maryland, but I can still offer advice: last year I went to Shepherds Harvest, the Minnesota edition of a sheep and wool festival. I made three purchases that day, and at 6:00pm, I got a call from American Express that one of those vendors had been hacked, and that all the credit cards used with that vendor had been compromised. They confirmed with me the names of the places I had used that card, and the amounts, and I had to immediately do all the things one has to do when this happens. They would not tell me the name of the vendor, but through process of elimination and conferring with a couple of friends who are craft fair vendors, I figured out that it was the one I had paid by swiping my card on a device attached to her phone, and that she was using community wifi.

    This is an increasingly common payment method at these events, so from now on, I attend with lots of cash (it does limit my spending to the amount of cash I bring, but that might be a good thing.) Sad that life comes to this, but such is the state of the world.

  • All of the above comments are true! Re-read Clara’s essay in Knitlandia. It’s spot on! Bring cash for the food vendors. They don’t take plastic of any kind. Also, bring a large tote bag for purchases, wear comfy shoes, and hope the sun does shine on Sunday. I’m going Saturday and it’s supposed to be overcast and chilly (boo). So sorry I’ll miss you! I was hoping to finally meet you!

    • Chilly weather leads to more knits to wear & show off! Alas, I’ going Sunday..

  • MSW is a lovely fest and I’m excited to head back after a five year absence (due to conflicting annual event that didn’t do so this year)! There’s all kinds of tips and advice in the Revelry group, so check that out: http://www.ravelry.com/groups/maryland-sheep–wool. I second the sunscreen, shoe, and sit-upon recommendations. Also water bottle! We will be there both days ~ save me an Olive button!

  • Wear close-toed shoes! It is partly an agricultural festival, and there are animals, and portapotties, and I am amazed at the people in flip-flops.

    Bring cash. Cell phone reception can be spotty in the big barn (and elsewhere) and a lot of the vendors use cell networks to run credit cards, so it’s a lot faster if you have cash.

    Because of said spotty cell phone service, pick a meet-up spot ahead of time, just in case.

    Strollers vs wagons vs backpacks vs whydidyoubringyourkids is an giant, on-going debate at MSW. People get all hot and bothered on every side of the situation. Do not get involved– there will be no winners.

  • I’ve only been to MSW once, sweet little fair. The thing that sticks is how odd it was to be looking at wool and worshipping sheep in warm weather. Not as much of a parade of hand knits as the siren call of fall in Rhinebeck.

  • Wear layers just like you would at Rhinebeck, but for different reasons. You’re going to WANT to show off your knitting, but then suddenly May-in-Maryland will happen and you’ll be the sweatiest. Be prepared with something underneath. Conversely, if you wear no knits, it will be 40 degrees and windy. It’s just the way of things.

    Barefoot Spinner in the Main Barn (I think) has these really amazing undyed yarns from her local Virginia flock–amazing compositions, really light and gorgeous stuff. If undyed isnt’ your thing, a lot of smaller dyers are willing to dye it up for you.

  • I’ve gone several times. All the above suggestions are true. I would wear comfy shoes. The grounds are hilly and uneven in places.

    We are having a rainy week, so even if the weather clears up by the weekend, the grounds, parking lot will be muddy.

    Maryland weather is like that. One year its chilly, another year its boiling hot!

  • I lived 45 minutes from the Howard County Fairgrounds for many years. Even though we’ve moved up north I still can’t miss it this year and will be there on Sunday too. Sunday is less crowded, especially in the morning, but there is still plenty of yarn to go around. It is supposed to rain all week, so I suggest boots. The fairgrounds are muddy. If you are willing to go offsite for food The Great Sage is a fantastic vegetarian restaurant just down the road. The Roots market in the same shopping center is also good for a snack reload. The MSW Ravelry group has a whole discussion just for newbies that has hundreds of great suggestions. (And I am an MSW if anyone gets too high on yarn fumes and you need someone to talk you down.)

  • Before you leave, make sure you have water, protein bars, and several reusable shopping bags in your large back pack. (You need lots of room for your new acquisitions, and you do not want to waste time stopping for water or food.) Park where the boy scouts tell you to. Try to remember where you parked your car, since in your excitement to get into the fairgrounds you might forget to note its location. And then there is absolutely no chance that you will be able to find it later. Try not to run to the gate, since the ground is bumpy and if you trip you might skin your knee on the dirt and gravel. Once into the fairgrounds, you must systematically go through every barn and every outdoor stall. Start in a clockwise direction. Try not to spend all your allotted funds on this first pass, since when you get to your starting point you must make another pass through the festival to go back to all those lovely hanks and batts and braids you left while you made up your mind. And remember that each skein or hank is totally unique and you will never see another one like it so if you love it you absolutely must acquire it for your stash now! Don’t forget to visit the sheep. But a word of caution — do not, under any circumstances, go anywhere near the unprocessed fleeces. Do not even go into the building with the unprocessed fleeces. If you go into that building, and go over to those fleeces, and touch a fleece, you will never be satisfied with beautiful, already spun and dyed yarn again. Most importantly, Enjoy!

  • It’s about three times the size of Rhinebeck, so plan accordingly. If you’re going to Rhinebeck, you could skip the vendors who attend both and get to see those who don’t come north. To cover the whole shebang more than cursorily in one day could be a stretch. If the weather is dry, it could be toasty. Hat and sunscreen and lots of water. Someone to share the driving would be good; being a passenger would be better.

    • Seriously – three times the size of Rhinebeck?!

      • I think they’re similar in number of vendors, and Maryland is less spread out.

  • I don’t know if this helps, but you could take the train and I could pick you up. From downtown it would be about 30-40 minutes.

    I am a veteran of MDS&W. been going before the internet. I know where Miss Babs is, Tess, Woolstock, and most vendors are. I could pickup veggie fare and we could make a day of it.

    Last year I brought a co-worker, her first sheep and wool it was a lot of fun.

    What to wear. Layers.
    We go from cool mornings, to really hot, to humid because of a thunder storm.

    look at your soles, you want something that has traction, easy of walking (no stilettos) You will be stepping in sheep poo, water, and it can get really dusty.

    Saturday and Sunday
    I am looking forward to going Sunday because there is less of a feeding frenzy.

    Sunscreen and Hat definitely.

    I have a Honda Fit, and it works great.

    Do you need references? I know all the shops in Baltimore, Catonsville, Glyndon, Hunt Valley, and I have driven as far as Virginia for classes.

    I have a great taste in music on my little iPod.

    The offer is open to you.

    • Wow, Patty, I’d join you in a heartbeat if I didn’t live in Oregon!

      • If you fly east, let me know and you can spend the night at my house.

  • It’s rainy here and will likely be drizzly all week. Bring your galoshes and a rain poncho. Also, some dry shoes to keep in the car. And a plastic bag to sit on -there are precious few picnic benches to sit on for lunch. Your snacks will be ideal – there’s only fair food at MSW and it’s mediocre at best.

    And my biggest MSW tip is: don’t wait in line for yarn. There’s lots of great stuff that has no line. I promise that whatever’s at the front of that line is available online (as it were). There’s a stitch marker swap this year – meet at 2pm both days at the buffalo yarn truck – everyone will love your Olive buttons! And on Sat 11-1 I’ll be volunteering at the fleece sale, watching over the silent auction for the prize winning fleeces, so stop by and say hi.

    Have a great trip!

    • Replying to myself because apparently there are still a handful of people who haven’t clicked on every. single. link at the MSW website while impatiently waiting to just be there already. (not that I know anyone who does that, ahem) So, in case it’s helpful, here’s the link to the vendor locator guide, which is usually also available in hard copy at the info tent just inside the gate: http://sheepandwool.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/2016-Vendor-Locator-Guide.pdf
      Inside the guide, there’s a map to explain which aisle is which in the main building so you can find all those vendors.

  • I’ve only attended once, and brought my 2-year-old twins along. Based on that, I would suggest a portable potty seat for the back of the car and also a stroller, so you don’t find yourself carrying a hot, tired, sticky child while also doing your best to fondle yarn. The animals were pretty great, but I didn’t get to do much shopping that year!

  • Latest weather I saw is better! Only 30% chance showers, 70s both days. For a rest Sunday eat your lunch in the bleachers at the Parade of Breeds, more sheep than you ever dreamt of, lots of them with lambs pronking about. Soak in the music, it’s everywhere. Bring a lunch, most of the food is of the grease/salt variety, and you need something healthier to keep your energy level high. Plus what everyone else said, especially in regards comfortable shoes.

  • Kay, welcome to Maryland from this native New Yorker:) My knitting group, the Columbia Sip n Knit, has been hosting a Hospitality Tent on the left side of the entrance (or right side of the exit, LOL) for about 10 years since it was started by Lynn Zwerling (of Knitting Behind Bars fame) and others. Our new Fearless Leader is Dorothy D’Ascanio -and others. If you are tired, thirsty, or just need to chat, have a drink of something cold, and wind a ball of yarn with us. We’d all be thrilled to meet up with you!. I’m volunteering Saturday afternoon, but whatever your schedule, please make yourself at home!
    Joan Gavigan, Ellicott City, MD
    a/k/a Fuguestateknits

    • What she said. I’ll be woman-ing the hospitality tent at 2:30 for an hour or so. Stop by, wind some of your yarn so you’ll have something fabulous to knit with on the way home.
      I’ll have a handful of Knitting Behind Bars buttons and being the knitting evangelist I am will tell you all about my program and also Columbia Sip and Knit, my two “babies”. Stop by, introduce youerself,show off your treasures, and meet the friendliest knitters in the world.
      Lynn Zwerling
      Knitting Behind Bars

  • This is why I love knitters! These are the people I want to travel with. Snacks, comfortable shoes, knitting. I feel like we could all road trip across the USA together. Have fun! I’ve never been, but would love to go one day.

  • I’ve been three years in a row and love it so I look forward to meeting you in person (I hope!). In advance, I make a list of vendors and locations of the ones I know I definitely want to visit. I bring a huge bag to put my purchases in plus water and snacks.

    I also note the time and location of the podcaster meet up which is always awesome. My hubby loves to see the animal shows and the dog herding shows. On Sunday morning we watch the shear the sheep for the sheep to shawl competition and then watch some spinning before we head back to SC.

  • This is great. I am going for the first time on Saturday. But I will be with my small children, husband and two other friends enlisted to corral the kids. So we will be looking at sheep and sheep dogs more than yarn. But that’s ok. Thanks for the heads up on bringing cash.

    • One more thing–bring Zyrtec or your antihistamine of choice. I don’t know how things are where you folks are, but in MD, DC, and NoVA, it’s bad. I had someone from CT come to DC 2 weeks ago for work and we had to get her medicated so she could go on. It’s probably better now than when the trees were first coming out, but I thought I should let you know.

  • Thanks for posting this, Kay. I’m really excited to be going this year – for the first time since 2006, when I lived in Alexandria. Even better, I’m going with my BFF Holly, who now lives in DC after being stationed on Okinawa and in Germany for 6 years or so. I haven’t needed galoshes in years (I live in Austin), but do have a pair in the back of a closet and am now considering whether to mail them to myself at her house (no space in my carry-on bag). Thanks, everyone, for all the helpful suggestions.

  • Just wanted to add that if one should happen to run out of cash ( I can’t imagine why!), there has been an ATM near the entrance of the festival for the past few years.

  • I will await your report from this festival, to determine if it needs to be added to my bucket list of sheep & wool festivals to attend before I’m too old to walk. Have never been to Rhinebeck, but based on your reports and those of other well-versed festival-goers, it’s on my list. This year I’m going to the Estes Park Wool Market for the first time.

    I snorted at the thought of Olive-in-a-swimsuit button!

  • I agree with Sandy Donna and Michele….and just about everyone else. I live 15 min. away from the fairgrounds and traffic and parking can be horrendous! Get there early…I would try to be there by 8 am. It’s been lousy weather this past week and the way things have been going weather-wise here plan for a little bit of everything. I do try to start at the bottom pavilion and work my way up. Mainly because I want to see everything and the load gets heavier but I’m closer to my car :). sheepandwool.org has more specific info for events. Have a great time…hope to see you 🙂

  • Welcome to Maryland! I’ve been going for almost 10 years and its an annual highlight. I recommend watching the sheep dogs herd the sheep. You can always buy yarn online but you can’t see this online. To find the dogs – first check the schedule. The demonstration can be found at the edge of the fairgrounds. When you enter the fair turn left and keep walking until you see a large fenced enclosure. I like to stand by the fence so I have a good view of the dogs doing their thing. I also like to walk through the sheep pens to see the different breeds. For yarn purchases I try to plan which vendors I want to visit in advance. Some of the yarn is magnificent, some not so much. Its a big festival and gets bigger and more crowded each year. The vendors hold back goods for display on Sunday so that those of us who can only go on Sunday still have a great selection. I’ve been there after 12 on Sunday and it is much easier to manage than first thing on Saturday or Sunday morning. I love to look at the Skein and Garment entries. The entries are unbelievable. Volunteers in white gloves will help with touching what’s on display. I pay for everything with cash. I do not trust the safety of the internet connection for the credit card transactions. I like eating lunch on the fairgrounds – the lamb kebabs, lamb burgers, and pit-lamb are delicious. There is also lovely glass work to purchase – shawl pins, buttons, beautiful pottery, and even handmade brooms, furniture, and purses. Great live music and a huge but entertaining police presence — I guess us middle-aged ladies can get really rowdy. I hope to meet you at MDSW and tell you in person that I am delighted by the work you and Ann do.

    • yes, we are a rowdy bunch. Some of those policemen look really handsome in their uniforms.

  • My two trips to MDS&W were both on swelteringly hot days, though many of the hardy knitsters still had shawls draped over their tank tops and T-shirts. (Impressive) . The fairgrounds can be dusty, if it has been dry out. My advice is bring water and a salad, the food scene is not varied and plentiful as the fair in Rhinebeck although there’s lots of lamb served up in various forms. (or, maybe that’s changed in the last five years).
    Sunday is less packed than Saturday, but you should still see plenty of Utilikilt action, with and without accompanying broknots. Oh, wait? You want to look at yarn and sheep? That too. Have a blast!

  • MSW was my first ever, and I loved it. I went alone, which was part of the fun — no kids with noses to wipe, no grumpy husband. One thing no one else has mentioned is the coffee mugs. Every year (I think), they have a coffee mug for sale with that year’s logo on it (in the barn with the lamb and soap and sheepy stuff). I still cherish mine. I also bought some sock yarn from a small vendor who had a tent outside the main barn. Everything she was selling (various weights and fibers) was hand-dyed the same color — a very pale blueish-greenish. I made my first pair of lace socks from that yarn and gave them to my daughter. Still remember feeling so proud!

    Thanks for the excuse to reminisce.

  • Never been. But you are tempting me to create a meet up on teh NJ Turnpike … if only I had to pick up Youngest this weekend and not days afterwards from college. I can recite a lot of the “Hamilton” score …

    I do know of two NJ stores that are chartering buses — Chelsea Yarns in Colts Neck and A Stitch in Time in Farmingdale … probably about 1 hr 20 ish minutes from the City, but only if you have a car. Do not know if this helps you at all.

  • Here’s my Maryland vs Rhinebeck smackdown blog post from 2012:

  • I LOVE MDSW !! I will never forget my first time thee — driving over the small hill to the parking lot which was a sea of cars, as far as you could see. There are some great tips here, particularly to remember where you parked your car. I use a landmark at the bottom of the parking area as a memory jogger. I second the idea of Kiparoo Farms’ cotton chenille (some of the softest, most durable yarn for baby blankets) and Tess’ Designer Yarns. I buy it every year. I still cannot bring myself to eat the lamb meals here:> You definitely need a large bag or two to hold your treasures but DO try to be careful about swinging it around into someone’s face after it is full. Bring your patience and good manners — it will help. And be prepared to have a spectacular time. I look forward to your report on it later.

  • Kay-I will be there. I am not sure which day. My husband goes with me in order to look bored and then disapproving when I buy more yarn even though I have more than a person can knit in a lifetime. I will be driving up from the DC area. The changing weather advice you’ve gotten is spot on. Wear layers. Also, if you want a tee shirt from the fair, be prepared to wait longer than you can imagine and then tack on another 1/2 hour. My prior shirt is now used to dust so I will most likely be in line. I will also queue up for Miss Babs. I still have plenty of unknit Tess , so… If you were in Nashville, you probably saw the Albers Cowl kit from the Neighborhood Fiber Co. I recommend one of those. And, have fun!

    • There is supposed to be a tent near the entrance this year that is selling one style, one color of the t-shirts. Limited selection, but much less of a line!

    • Kay turned me on to the Albers Cowl pattern ~ I think she was knitting the blanket when she wrote about it. I have made two, one as a gift and one for myself.

  • If it wasn’t mother’s day I’d pick you up.

  • Love MDSW! It’s practically in my backyard so an annual must-attend. Over the years I’ve tried to balance out the yarn buying with some of the other demos and activities. I’ve listed some interesting Sunday events below:

    -Sheep to shawl – just like it sounds. Amazing what these teams accomplish in a morning. Shawls are then auctioned off.
    -Parade of sheep breeds
    -Youth conservationist program – so sweet to see ‘young shepherds’ be given a sheep to now call their own
    -Lead line contest – I’ve only seen young woman participate in this but maybe it is open to young men too? They have their sheep on a lead line, walk around the sheep stall while wearing something made from wool. The announcer gives a play by play. Fascinating. Who even knew this type of competition existed??!!

    Have fun and hope our paths cross (read as I’ll be on the lookout for you and hopefully won’t knock down too many people in my efforts to say ‘hi!’).

  • Aw shucks, I’d love the chance for a yarn-seeking road trip – singing Hamilton mixed with wool-talk – with you, but I’m booked. And still recovering from Pesach, so I haven’t had a chance to tell you how much I loved your “Balabusta in 24 years…” post.

    I, too, make Mrs. Feinberg’s veg kug X3 – 3 grandsons! – and if you haven’t ever tried the Moroccan coconut Sabra torte (no matzo meal! good all year!) or the Orange-Chocolate Passover cake (aka ‘tweed cake’ – sounds like yarn!) from the same Joan Nathan book, I highly recommend them. Next year!

    Said grandsons and their keepers were here for the holiday, from LA, and kept me busy. My two ovens dying, one on Thursday night, and the other just as guests were due for second Seder didn’t help. It was an adventure!
    Loved your take on cleaning the counters to a fare- thee-well and then covering them: whoever heard of a holiday where you clean before you cook?! There’s a great anecdote about an early spring when one of Russia’s tzars forbid any practice of Judaism, and how the tzar relented just before Pesach, and the woman wailed, “couldn’t he have waited another couple of weeks!” But I love it enough to have put my knitting down for days on end.
    Now back to the fun – thanks for keeping me in another kind of stitches! Hope you get your travel buddy, and score some terrific yarn in Maryland.

  • Sunday morning: come see me at the Sheep to shawl contest! 7-12 in pavillion. I am on the Tidewater Spinners & Weavers team.

    I thought it might be easier for you to find me than the other way around!

    Have never met you, I just thought I could peak your interest. There will be several teams competing… everyone is super friendly. Hope you stop by, Linda

  • Wish I could offer you a ride. Alas, I am not attending.

  • Sunscreen!!! I swear the sun is exponentially stronger down there, and my pale New York skin fries fast if I don’t slather up.

  • My 17 year old daughter, my 70ish Mom and I went for the first time ever, last year. I normally go to Rhinebeck. I was unaware that the overflow parking was far away and necessitated a bus ride down the hill, then we still needed to hike to the festival and across their parking lot. The grass was tall and footing uneven. Wear good, flat walking shoes.
    It’s hot!! Again, I go to Rhinebeck, it’s rarely HOT! So dress to sweat!!
    Follow the map… There are so many vendors in tents, not in barns.
    Bring your own sandwich/snacks/lunch/ cold beverage. The lines for food were crazy.

    The festival is smaller than Rhinebeck, so lines are longer, specifically for food and drink.

    Enjoy!! I would love to go to MSW again someday, but alone!! Mom and daughter were good sports, but they seriously interfered with my stash enhancement.

  • I’ll second the suggestion to start at the large exhibit building on the west end of the grounds. Be sure to visit the 2 vendor areas across from the building too. Work your way through the barns in a zigzag manner (they are open at both ends so you can cruise through one cross to the next and so on. The bunnies, sock knitters and lacers are tucked in a barn behind the main stage area. Sunday is usually not nearly as crowded as Saturday! If you can stop and listen to some great music along the way. Maggie Sansone is in the exhibit building, Rock Candy is along the main concourse and there are usually a couple more groups sprinkled around. Lots of spinners too.

  • Check out Autumn House Farms, Puckerbrush Farms, and Turnstyles

    Don’t buy anything you can get at your LYS.

    Check the Ravelry board for coupons.

    Collect business cards of anything you thought about buying. You can almost always order it online tomorrow.

    Make time to watch the sheepdog trials. Wonderful!

    • The sheepdog trials ARE lots of fun, especially when the sheep escape and start running through the crowd!

      I go every year and agree with following especially:
      Sunscreen, even if it’s cool; bring water; consider bringing lunch and eating in/near car; bring cash; Sunday is quieter

      SO MUCH FUN!

      I hope I meet you, especially if you have Olive pins

  • I hope to run into you, Kay (not bodily, just meet you). Unfortunately I doing a triangle from the Philly area to the festival to South Jersey, so no ride help. I’ve only been to MSW once, 2 years ago. Despite what others said upstream my impression was that it’s smaller than Rhinebeck and very doable in 1 day. Of course, I’m just browsing (and impulse shopping) and not focused on any particular booth or product, so YMMV. Sunday gates don’t open until noon, so don’t aim for 8:30 am!

    I second the advice for cash, layers, comfy shoes, snacks, water, an umbrella, shopping bags, and a sit-upon.

    • From the festival website:

      May 7 & 8, 2016
      9AM – 6PM Saturday
      9AM – 5PM Sunday

      • My bad. Not sure where I thought I saw noon. Thanks!

  • I’ve never been, but I have a sister in the area to stay with so it’s on my list for one of these years. (My only real advice is to stop by her farm for amazing, humanely raised meat: http://www.copperpennyfarm.net/) (And to see her sheep, in case there aren’t enough at the Festival!)

    Have you ever been to Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair? It’s in Cummington, MA, over Memorial Day Weekend. It’s like a tiny, perfect Rhinebeck without the crazy crowds.

  • Do not miss the Sheep-to-Shawl in the morning, Pavilion tent, I’ll be wearing the huge hat. Our shearer will do demos all day outside the main exhibition hall, good to watch when you need a rest (sit on a plastic bag to avoid damp). Best food: Artichokes French, no line, no kidding. I like the ribbon chips, lime fizz, and birch beer, too. Do look for vendors you don’t see at Rhinebeck – a good number will be familiar but the others are very cool to visit.

  • I got to go once-work trip paid the airfare-yeah!

    Usual fair advice: think about what you want to see or purchase. I knew I wanted to test drive traveling spinning wheels, so found all the vendors, checked Rav and emailed around to find out who had what. There were also a few vendors I knew I didn’t want to miss. It was my first large-scale show. I’m not the person who gets to go to Rhinebeck or MSW every year. I’ve only been to each once.

    I then mapped out the vendors by barn. The year I went it was HOT, so I planned to get the must-sees in the barns done ASAP. I arrived when the show opened. I was glad I had done that. After I had seen all that I didn’t want to miss, I was at leisure to wander through and when it got too hot and stinky (human not animal!) I could just walk out. I did have 1.5 days.

    I enjoyed a lecture by Judith McKenzie about Pendleton Co that I still think about.

    I did buy a wheel and a vendor from my home state offered to drive it back. She was going to have empty space on the return. Sweet! If someone is thinking of an equipment purchase and they flew, maybe this could work for you, too.

    Don’t remember a thing about the food but I had the BEST time!

  • Great advice here, and in the ravelry group for MSWF: http://www.ravelry.com/groups/maryland-sheep–wool

    One year, there was a scavenger hunt bingo. Our children make up their own sheets of the fun sights and sounds: announcer jokes, blade shearing, loose wool rolling like tumbleweed, and the Boy Scout parking assistants – that always starts the show for us. This year, there’s a stitch marker swap with a meetup at the Buffalo Wool Co truck, and a podcaster meet-up somewhere.

    Longest lines: Miss Babs, Jennie the Potter. Sizable lines: Into the Whirled, The Fold, Festival Merchandise bldg, food vendors (helloooo ice cream, french fries, and yes funnel cakes!), Tess, Fiber Optic, Dragonfly, among many wonderful others.

    If you want some of the maple cream that people go crazy for, go fast because it does.

    This year’s featured breed is the Finnsheep, with a special tent just for them. People love the spin-in on Saturday evening. Some year when the kids can take a longer day, we’ll make it to that. Cheese vendor(s) will keep your purchase refrigerated while you enjoy the festival.

    My number 1 tip: Put the beer in the fridge BEFORE you leave home. 2010 was certainly a hard lesson in our house.


  • What people called the “main barn” actually is called the Main Exhibition Hall. It’s the one with a concrete floor instead of dirt. Some of the best vendors are there, but some of the newer and (to me) best/most interesting are in the tents at the bottom of the hill across from the dog trials and at the top of the hill, back right from the entrance.

    I try to get there at 8:30 for parking. That puts us in line for the best ladies’ room at 8:45 and ready to shop when vendors open at 9:00.

    Contrary to what you might think, cold and rainy days are the BEST for MDS&W, because the crowds are smaller. Best ever was the year it started out 55 and rainy on Saturday morning. It was EMPTY and shopping was easy. Around lunchtime, the sun came out and dried things up, warming it up to the 80s and drawing huge afternoon crowds.

    Sorry I won’t get to play Spot the Kay. I’m going on Saturday as always. I have 3 things on my potential shopping list, and only 3. I’m working on shopping my stash and knitting those sweaters I planned and bought for at previous shows! Also, my LYS is having a Hazel Knits popup store this week. Dangerous!

  • Ha! Thanks for the shout out for us MSWs! I would advise bringing some cash, although there are some ATMs, you might not be near one when you want funds. I do bring some snacks as food lines can be long and mostly greasy fair food. Wear closed shoes that are ok to get muddy. Dress in layers for it can start cool and warm up, especially in crowded barns. Baaaaaa!

  • Thank goodness the sheep-to-shawl event was mentioned. Yes, Rhinebeck is great but MDS&W is better. Okay, I may be biased. Free and family-friendly with lots of folks who breed and raise the animals that provide the resources for our pleasure and creativity. (Volunteers are still needed, people.)

    One of last year’s surprise treats: the Leicester Longwool Sheep Breeders Association 25th Anniversary Celebration, and I have yarn to prove it. One year I pretended I was going to be a spinner and had a blast checking out all the wheels and devices. Still dreaming about the ones not much bigger than a large wooden pencil box. Then there was the year of stitch markers and shawl pins….

    But you should drive down Saturday afternoon /evening. My Towson guest room is available. I’m about an hour north of the fairgrounds and plan to get there for the 9 o’clock opening. Regardless, you will have a blast.

  • MSW is larger than Rhinebeck, but i enjoy Rhinebeck much more. Mostly because of the season and that at Rhinebeck there are many places to sit so you can rest and plan. But still a good time. Are you familiar with the large blue bags from IKEA? If you have them, take at least one…LOTS of stuff to buy. Ditto on letting the bank know where you are and having some cash on hand. My wonder at these things is do the live sheep on the other side of the midway mind smelling lamb cooking all day long?

    • Oh dear! I mind it-HATE lamb! UGH!!

  • If you can make it, do go see the Parade of Sheep Breeds, which is on Sunday from 12:30 – 1:30 in the Show Ring. It’s really fun to see all the different breeds all spiffied up for their showing at the Festival. And check out the sheep dog trial demonstrations, which are at the Sheep Dog Field from 11-12, 1-2 and 3-4 on Sunday. Those dogs are unbelievable.

    Other than that, I second what others have said: bathrooms are not so great and almost always have a line; food is not as good as what’s available at Rhinebeck (unless you like lamb, then you’re golden 🙂 ); it’s hard to see everything in one day, especially now that they’ve expanded the vendors into the upper and lower lots.

  • I can’t believe no one has yet mentioned the Artichoke French stand for delicious sauteed or deep fried artichoke hearts. Or you can get a combination of both (my favorite). I also heard on the Ravelry board that thre will be a vendor with sangria!

    I bring a camp chair and set it up by the music pavilion so I have somewhere to sit when I want a break. Great people watching there! (Plus there aren’t many benches or places to sit at the fairgrounds. )

    I agree with arriving early. I get there at 8:00 so I can watch the begeinning of the sheep to shawl competition. Then I head over to one of the buildings (the dining hall I think) for a cup of coffee and visit the barns while I wait for the vendors to open. So peaceful.

    Don’t miss the man making brooms on a piece of antique equipment near the Outside North Vendors. He’s interesting to watch and if you need a broom, they work better than anything you can buy at Target. Amazingly better.

  • I wish I had read this before MDSW, I would have loved to meet you! I hope that you enjoyed the festival.

  • My top hints:
    1. If it has rained at all during the week prior to the festival, consider wearing rain boots, as it will be muddy.
    2. Look for the sign listing the ROW NUMBER where your car is parked. This should actually be #1. I forgot to do this and was wandering around lost for literally HOURS before I found my car.
    3. Take a large tote for purchases, or even a backpack, which will distribute the weight more evenly.
    4. Consider buying a helium balloon with a long string and tying it to your car abtenna because: see @2!!!!
    5. Take a large plastic trash bag to sit on while you eat so you don’t have to walk around with a damp butt all day.
    6. Stuff some Kleenex in your pocket just in case you end up in a portapot or bathroom with no TP.
    7. Take a little notebook so you can write down inspiring ideas.
    8. Take a camera so you can save pix of inspiration.
    9. Consider throwing some bottled water in your emergency kit. Maybe bandaids and Tylenol just in case.
    10. Wear something you’ve made, and wear it with pride!


  • I am such a new yorker I can’t even change for a maryland festival! So, I see these New York Vendors immediately when I enter… and I visit them more than once in the day

    Heirlooms Outside North Vendors: N9 — Heirlooms is the duo, Mike and Lis barsuglia-madsen…. they are from up near the adirondacks and watertown and this festival is the furthest they travel. Lis is from Denmark and her yarn shows the heritage of scandinavia with a bit of the adirondacks thrown in!

    Jill Draper Main Exhibition Hall: C3– You already know about Kingston based Jill Draper and her New York based yarn. Lookout for other known designers working in her booth….. will you be there, too?

    I love the Maryland dyers — Neighborhood Fibers, DragonFly and MarigoldJen (she is sharing with Hobbledhoy Outside Lower Corral Vendors: LC5

    And for spinning wheels you can visit Norm Hall from central NY …

    Hope to see you at the festival! I caught a glimpse of you at Jill’s open house last fall.

  • just ignore! I saw this on facebook page and just noticed it was article from last year.