The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

Shave away a weekend at the Maryland Sheep Festival

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons
Sheep being shorn in front of a group of amazed spectators, as the shearer pulls the sheep into a sitting position by its cloven hoof.

Mary had a little lamb, but Maryland has a big herd. An unique experience, the annual Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival is a lively outing suitable for all ages. It hosts a variety of activities, offering everything from sheep dog demonstrations to Japanese crochet lessons. For its 51st annual gathering, the must-see festival will be held on May 4th and 5th. 

Every year, vendors bring their livestock to an exciting festival dedicated to the wooly animals known for their docile nature and warm coats. The outdoor festival is hosted over a weekend, rain or shine, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are free for anyone under 18, $12.50 online, or $15 at the gate for adults.

The main attraction of the festival is, as evident from its name, sheep. The cloven-hoofed livestock prance around the ring to compete in sheep shows, and their wool is also displayed and auctioned off. Outside of the ring are pens full of fluffy sheep of all different breeds, which visitors can pet. Many people take their sheep to get sheared at the festival. The sheep are clipped into harnesses. They are then maneuvered and shaved until they’re sleek and clean, making for a hilarious and entertaining watch. This year, the featured sheep is the Cotswold, or the “poor man’s mohair.”

In addition to the sheep displays, the event also includes sheepdogs and rabbits. The sheepdogs demonstrate herding techniques, where the owners instruct the sheepdogs to herd sheep through a series of gates and obstacles until they are penned. The rabbits, known for their extra-long fur, are located in a barn and are a major attraction for younger children. The area also has extra seating and picnic tables for lunch.  

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Additionally, over 60 lessons and learning activities are available, each with a wooly twist. The Main Exhibition Annex hosts fiber workshops to demonstrate a multitude of handicrafts. Attendees can learn about many types of textiles, from the spinning wheel and rug hooking to needlepoint and bobbin lace making. Other full and half-day workshops cover topics such as dyeing, felting, weaving and more. These engaging workshops provide a great way to pick up a unique new hobby, although a beginner might want to learn about embroidery before going to the spindle. For those whose interests don’t align with these, there are also  historical lectures discussing the Chesapeake fibershed and the role of Viking women with textiles. 

The festival also offers a variety of shops selling craft supplies and knitwear. Yarn is sold in many forms, and plenty of knitting and other crafting implements can be purchased. There is also a handmade shawl auction and a Festival Farm Market, which sells local goods like honey, spices and coffee. The festival, in addition to its Saturday night dinner and Sunday breakfast buffet, includes a variety of food stands, which tend to be typical festival fare: hotdogs and hamburgers, popcorn and ice cream. 

The festival is a novel experience that is a memorable and fun adventure for WCHS students. It is family-friendly and offers diverse activities that provide something for everyone. Educational yet entertaining, it is a great way to unwind amidst AP exams this May.  Be warned, though: it might get a little wooly.

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