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Celebrate Spring at the Fleece and Fiber Fair

There’s nothing quite like a spring day on the farm, and the Hallockville Museum Farm in Riverhead is inviting everyone out for the 5th annual Fleece and Fiber Fair on May 17 and 18.

“It’s a really beautiful setting to enjoy these animals, especially the sheepherding demonstration,” says Beth Motschenbacher, assistant director at the Hallockville Museum Farm. “To see the sheepherding happen in a 250-year-old farm landscape is quite spectacular.” There may even be a few surprises at this year’s event. “This is the time of year when all of the babies start arriving,” she says. “We are expecting that there will be some lambs born either before, or possibly even during the fair.”

The Fleece and Fiber Fair was created to showcase the process of how fiber crafts have traditionally been made. “This whole thing started about five years ago, when one of our extraordinary volunteers, Judy Barth, approached Hallockville with the idea of putting on an event that celebrated fiber arts and crafts,” Motschenbacher says. Hallockville teamed up with Tabbethia Haubold, who owns the Yaphank-based Long Island Livestock Company, to supply animals and provide sheering demonstrations. “She’s been very instrumental in helping grow the fair each year,” she says. “It’s really been a great collaboration.”

“Hallockville Museum Farm had approached me to join forces and create an event that could not only cater to our local spinners and knitters, but more importantly, get new people on board and introduced to the crafts and the animals,” Haubold says. “I provide the sheering demonstrations throughout the weekend, both on llama and on sheep, and I provide a majority of the varied fiber livestock that we have in the pasture area for people to visit.”

The two-day event will feature more than 20 vendors, as well as a variety of demonstrations, including the always popular llama obstacle course. “You can see everything from start to finish, from the animals to the sheering to the carding, spinning, knitting, weaving and dyeing,” Haubold says. “It’s really a fun, interactive day that seems to appeal to everybody, whether you’re involved in the industry, or just a family who wants to come and see the animals and enjoy a fun, open day out.”

“For people to come and actually see that animals produce these fibers that create these wearable pieces of art, like sweaters and things, is really a great experience,” Motschenbacher says. As always, the fair will be hosting the region’s top fiber guilds, including the Basket Weavers Guild of Eastern Long Island, the Peconic Ruggers Guild, the Eastern Long Island Knitting Guild, the Spinning Study Group of Long Island and the Eastern Long Island Quilters Guild. “Some people think they have to be a knitter or a weaver to enjoy this kind of thing, but that’s not the case at all,” she says. “We really strive to make it approachable for everyone, so that even if you are unfamiliar with these art forms you can still enjoy the fair, learn something new, get up close to the animals and see what they’re all about.”

“I operate as a vendor, as part of the event, as well as an organizer,” Haubold says. “We’re giving people in the fiber business, as independent artists, a really inexpensive opportunity to be able to share their wares to the community”

In addition to the craft and supply vendors, Riverhead’s Maple Tree Catering will be on hand providing food. “They specialize in barbecue but they’ll have a lot other options and lighter fare such as salads and wraps and some of their vary delicious soups available,” Motschenbacher says.

Hallockville Museum Farm expects about 1,200 people over the two days. “We always hope that it will grow each year in terms of attendance, and each year we have been fortunate,” she says. “The word is definitely getting out and people are coming to this fair as a destination to learn more about these folk art forms and to just to enjoy a nice spring day out on the farm.”

The 5th Annual Fleece and Fiber Fair will be at the Hallockville Museum Farm in Riverhead, May 17 and 18, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit hallockville.com.

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