Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival Review

This past weekend was the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I’ve wanted to go to this even for years and finally had the opportunity to go!

I found out a local yarn shop, Down Cellar in Basking Ridge, NJ, was offering a bus trip on the Saturday of the event. The cost? $90. A little steep in my opinion, but my dear husband wanted me to go, so I signed up. The cost included breakfast, juice, coffee and water on the way down, snacks on the way back, yarn for a community project and several raffles. Sounded like a good time. I was told we should arrive by 6:15 a.m. to depart the parking lot at 6:30 a.m. for an approximate 9:30 a.m. arrival time. I was up at 4:00 a.m. and out the door 40 minutes later. I wanted to make sure I was there on time and couldn’t wait to get on the road!

I actually arrived at 5:15 a.m., so I went in search of somewhere that was open for coffee. By the time I got back about 20 minutes later to find several ladies anxiously waiting to go! I checked in and received my goodie back and jumped on the bus. Everyone was very excited to get going. So, we waited while everyone checked in and got settled on the bus. Then they handed out breakfast. Then we waited…and waited…and waited. Many ladies started asking why we weren’t on the road yet. Come to find out we were waiting on ONE PERSON who was late. As people on the bus became increasingly frustrated, one of the women who was running the trip said she would wait for anyone. One annoyed woman said she wouldn’t expect two bus loads of people to wait for her. The woman from the shop made a point of telling all of us that she doesn’t want us to make her feel bad. Well, she finally showed up one hour late and we were finally on the road. I settled in for a nap happy to finally be heading to Maryland.

Unfortunately, things didn’t get much better at that point. As we were waiting to get into the show, the air conditioning gave out on the bus. I especially felt bad for a woman sitting a few rows behind me who was really feeling ill due to the heat on the bus. While we waited in line, I asked the trip organizer if we would be staying later since we started out so late. She said no and to “walk fast.” I told her for a $90 price tag, I shouldn’t have to walk fast. We finally got into the show and our bus parked just shy of 11:30 a.m. – close to two hours late. The organizer announced that we would have an extra 15 minutes to walk around at the end of the day but was emphatic to be online or they would leave without you! Really? We wait approximately an hour for one woman, we are threatened that if we are late to take the Amtrak? Needless to say, no one was really happy.

When I first got off the bus, I did exactly what the woman said. I was so afraid I wouldn’t have time to see everything, I hustled and bustled around not really seeing anything. About an hour into the day, I finally settled in and started to enjoy the day.

I couldn’t believe all the fibery goodness! I had a chance to visit with Laurie, mommy to Laurie’s Lambs and of course take time to visit with her happy sheep. I treated myself to a glass crochet hook from Michael and Shelia Ernst. I also had a new experience and participated in the spinning equipment auction. I won an antique Weave-It loom and bid on a spinning chair, but someone wanted it way more than I did! It was a lot of fun to watch everyone bid and win different fiber items.

I visited every barn to check out all the different animals and ohhh’d and ahhhh’d over all the beautiful fibers and yarn. I even picked up some yarn for fly tying! There were lots of vendors I’ve only heard about, but never met. Everyone was very friendly and happy to chat about common love of fiber.

I think the Auctioneer put it best. She said during a little break that she loves coming to the festival and seeing familiar faces. That we have become a “fiber family.” And I would have to agree. It reminded me of the family Glenn and I have developed at the Fly Fishing Shows we attend. It is a common love and passion that brings us all together. It was a wonderful day!

All too soon, however, I had to trek back to the bus. We left at 3:45 p.m. on the dot…with no air conditioning the entire ride home. Someone popped open the emergency hatch in the back of the bus to at least circulate some air. I again settled in for a nap on the way home, hoping to sleep through the heat.

While the festival itself was absolutely amazing, the issues with the organization of the bus trip, which cut our time to walk around by close to 90 minutes was certainly a disappointment. So, next year, I am not sure if I will go. I will look into the Amtrak and see what is involved. If I do even consider going on the Down Cellar bus trip, I will definitely ask if there has been a late police put into place. If not, well, they won’t get my $90 next year. They could definitely learn from Jill Deal in Milford, PA on how to run a successful bus trip.

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