Guide to fiber events in the US, part five

November 9, 2013 § Leave a comment


Fiber events are the highlight of my crafting year. I always look forward to seeing my friends and catching up on the news and seeing all the trends that are developing. Plus, the shopping is pretty fun too! While most of this advice about safety and comfort at all-day fiber events is pretty commonsense if you’ve ever attended a large gathering (I’m assuming that’s most of you), at many large festivals I see people struggling with their purchases or looking uncomfortable because of their clothing. A large outdoor gathering like Rhinebeck or MDSW is not like going to the mall; for one thing, there’s a lot of sheep poop around, which leads me to my first bit of advice.

What to wear:

I highly recommend wearing comfortable closed-toe shoes or at least sandals with ankle straps. Trust me on this, you don’t want to end up like the person at MDSW two years ago whose flip-flop got stuck in sheep poop. (Related: bringing some disposable napkins is not a bad idea.) Be prepared for slippery indoor surfaces and muddy outdoor areas if it’s raining or recently rained.

Dress in layers. Weather at events can be very changeable, and what was comfortable in a packed vendor barn may be not warm enough outside for watching a demonstration.

SUNBLOCK! Bring a kind you know you’ll apply. My personal favorite is mineral sunblock. Every two hours or so I apply it using the floofy brush that comes with it – no muss, no mess, no burns. There’s no waiting for it to soak in and I can apply it on the go. (My preferred brand is Peter Thomas Roth SPF 45, but there are many on the market at all price points.)

What not to wear:

In an ideal world, carry/wear items in front of you (e.g., baby carriers/slings) or at your sides. Large backpacks can easily knock over displays or other attendees.

What to bring with you:

A bottle of water is always a good idea – it’s expensive to purchase at a lot of shows, and often there’s a long line too. Most festivals I’ve been to have water fountains where you can refill (do check that it’s potable water first, as some fairgrounds have water pumps scattered around, particularly in barn areas).

Food lines can get long fast, so a small snack to tide you over is helpful.

If you prefer to shop with cash, bring a sufficient amount. Lines at ATMs (if the show even has one) can get quite long and there may be transaction fees.

Reusable cloth bags hold a lot relative to their size and they’re easier on your hands than the paper or plastic bags that vendors provide.

Wet wipes are handy especially if you’ve been petting animals. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers might be a good option too if you’re into that kind of thing. There are typically sinks available though if you need/want to wash your hands.

What not to bring with you:

Wheeled carts are typically not popular with other attendees because inevitably they run over someone’s foot (this goes along with that closed-toe shoe recommendation at outdoor shows), and they take up a lot of space in booths.

Please do not bring pets to shows. The only animals allowed at fairgrounds are service animals and the animals that are specifically there to be shown. Also, don’t leave them in your car either; at MDSW the police will break into your car to free your pet, and I wouldn’t be surprised if other shows have similar rules.

Miscellaneous advice:

You may want to call your credit card company before the show to alert them that you will be purchasing from vendors from various areas. The past year or so several of my friends have had their cards frozen until they called to verify the purchases.

If you see something suspicious, report it to a volunteer (typically they are wearing an ID badge and/or t-shirt) and/or the police.

If you have a camera or smartphone, take a picture of something near or in-line with where you parked. The red maple at Rhinebeck (shown above) really helped when I was lugging twelve pounds of fleeces back to the car.


Part one, featuring larger shows,

Part two, featuring medium-sized shows, and

Part three, featuring smaller shows

Part four, featuring dyer open houses, yarn crawls, and mill tours

If you have any tips and tricks to share about fiber festivals, or any fiber festival recommendations, I’d love to hear them!


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