After several days of grey skies and rainy weather, Sunday dawned clear and crisp — perfect autumn weather for a road trip. Sarah and I hopped in the car and pointed it westward to the border between Virginia and West Virginia, to a little town called Berryville, population 3,000. Our destination? The Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival.
The Marine Corps Marathon was also taking place on Sunday, which impeded our taking the original route we’d intended, but Sarah is a pro (with a brother out in Virginia) and managed to reconnect us with 66 further down the road. Eventually, we got off the highway at Rudi’s suggestion and drove through small towns on windy roads and through lovely farm country. The foliage was great to see, but Sarah and I agreed that the reds and yellows of a northeastern fall are superior to the oranges you find in the mid-Atlantic.
We found the fairgrounds without any trouble, paid our admission, and set to walking about. First stop were the two alpaca-centric barns, where I learned that alpaca don’t like to have their heads touched, but don’t mind having the base of their neck rubbed. Who can say no to a shoulder rub, after all?
We had people to see and places to be, though, so we moved along. We found Mia in the Arts and Crafts building, where she was selling her hand-spun yarn with Mid-Valley Fibers.
After a pre-arranged trade, Mia (who was the person who told me about the festival and then cajoled me into coming) helped me find the Beyond Basic Knits stall, where they were running a hat collection drive. It so happens that a couple years ago, Rudi’s mom knit me two hats that didn’t end up fitting me (in size or taste). Not quite knowing what to do with these handknit hats, I’d held onto them, knowing I’d find a purpose sooner or later. So when I heard that BBK was collecting hats, I dug them out of storage and dunked them in the sink to freshen them up a bit. I neglected to account for humid weather, though, and they were still damp when I delivered them to the booth. Then we were on to the final booth to say hello to Gretchen and Joan at the Solitude booth and to introduce them and Mia.
At that point, Sarah and I realized we were falling down from hunger and decided it would be good to sneak in a lunch break. We sat at a sunny picnic table and feasted on festival goodies — she a lamb sausage sandwich and me a delicious egg salad sandwich — while listening to a local duo play a broad assortment of musical genres.
We made our moonshine purchase of unpasteurized apple cider and then headed back to the festival. I’d missed the sheep barn earlier, so pointed myself there first.
See this goat?
She was teasing the sheep in the pen next to hers.
This photo shows the exact opposite composition of the world at the moment I snapped it. The background was, in fact, standing perfectly still, while that poor, goaded sheep was hurtling itself at the bars of its pen, trying desperately to show the annoying goat on the other side who was top livestock.
Her penmate was no help at all, merely standing next to her in the face-off. As the goat also had a pal, it seemed very much like duelists with their seconds squaring off to settle a grudge. I’m not sure who won, but the teenage boy minding both of them seemed put out at having to serve as arbiter.
The festival closed at four, unfortunately, and my fondness for the animals caused us to tarry a bit too long for comfortable shopping. Even though there were a comfortable number of vendors for browsing, we were forced to hurry through the last few in order to double back to a new yarn seller, Crabapple Yarns, who had luscious colors on display.
And then it was done and Sarah and I headed back east. We stopped by a local farmstand recommended by a fellow knitter, where I may have bought some cookies to eat on the way home. While we were parked in their lot, I realized I hadn’t taken any foliage shots. Unfortunately, this was not a prime spot for photographing colorful leaves, but I did my best:
As you can see, we still have a lot of leaves on our trees. Most of the ones out in Clarke County have turned more than those in this particular stretch.
I liked the Shenandoah Valley festival. I have only the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, the largest fiber festival in the country, to compare it to, but it stands up well. MS&W is overly crowded and has many, many vendors. There’s no way to keep stalls straight in your overly stimulated brain. But this festival was human-scaled, had a nice assortment of mostly local sellers, and seemed filled with generally cheerful folks. I’d go back again and would recommend it as a destination to local knitters who’d like a nice drive out into the countryside.
Want to see what I came home with? Come back later on, when I’ll share some pretty yarn photos.