Staying Ahead of the Herd Via Localism and Origin Narratives

Picture a woman hugging a carefully woven woolen blanket to her chest with equal parts enthusiasm and appreciation asking the question, “What sheep did this come from?” This is the narrative cultivated at the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival. It’s an origin story whereby the sheep isn’t just another link in the supply chain but assumes a leading role as “business partner.”
The two-day festival, which occurred this past weekend in Rhinebeck, N.Y., dotted the Dutchess County Fairgrounds with more than 30,000 attendees partaking in activities such as fiber art workshops and livestock displays along with tactile interactions with vendors’ soft goods displayed in colorful arrays.
Click here for a gallery of images from the festival.
Similar in niche to September’s New York Denim Days, the Sheep and Wool Festival is a community-centric festival, which attracts wool enthusiasts nationwide and even rivals the scale of the National Retail Federation’s Big Show.
“We are a local group that promotes and educates on sheep in the region,” said Blaine Burnett, head of media relations for the festival. And education included everything from selling sheep, purchasing yarns and raw wool, enrolling in workshops on spinning and dyeing, as well as more leisurely insights such as

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