Art in the Barn Fleece & Fiber Festival opens this weekend in Sturgis
STURGIS, SD – Bringing rural and community interests together, the 11th Annual Art in the Barn Fleece & Fiber Festival will open Friday, June 4 at the Meade County Fair Building on the fairgrounds.
Event founder and chairman Barb Uhrig of Newell, SD, has raised purebred Cheviot sheep for over 36 years. To provide a gathering place for fiber enthusiasts, she created the Art in the Barn Fleece and Fiber Festival.
“I love my sheep. Years ago, I would get magazines from other festivals and thought there was no reason why something like that couldn’t be done here.”
The two-day event offers vendors and crafts, demonstrations and classes, a wool show and sheep show along with available concessions.
“There is something for everyone,” says Uhrig. “Along with every kind of knit or crocheted item you can think of, visitors can also browse original woodworks, sculptings, wood nesting balls, lamb jerky sticks, original jewelry and other artisan craft.”
She adds, “Of course, there will be a variety of yarn available. And raw fleeces are available for sale during the event or attendees can buy processed fleeces as well.”
Presentations include everything from value-added opportunities in sheep production and marketing to how to use a blending board. Classes include needle pelting, using a blending board, how to use hand cards, knitting and crocheting. Gwen Kitzan, a fourth-generation sheep producer from Nisland and the Chairman of the American Lamb Board, will discuss marketing product beyond selling the animal or the wool.
Vendors along with sheep and wool exhibitors come from a five state area for the show that continues to grow in participation and attendance.
“They come from the Dakota’s, Montana, Wyoming and Nebraska,” says Uhrig. “It depends on the year, on other things going on. We will have anywhere from 200-500 in attendance on any given year.”
This year, the non-profit will present a youth memorial fleece award and a memorial shepherd award given in memory of life-long sheep promoter, teacher and judge John Gupman, Lemmon, SD, who passed away this year.
“He was our wool and sheep judge,” said Uhris. “He was really highly thought of by kids and adults alike. He was a life-long 4-H leader and advisor and judge. He was a very good mentor to all the kids in a five state area.”
The Art in the Barn Fleece & Fiber Festival runs from 9am – 6pm on Friday, June 4 and from 9am – 5pm on Saturday, June 5 on the Meade County Fairgrounds. See more information on Facebook.