I went on an adventure this past weekend to upstate New York. I convinced my world-traveling, fellow-knitting friend Kari to come along for the annual Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival. I also brought my fiber-inspired pottery along to sell at a popular ‘pre-game’ pop up show sponsored by Indie Untangled. It was a whirlwind.
As a life-long knitter, I’ve been curious about the renowned Rhinebeck mecca and wanted to experience it for myself. It’s built a reputation among yarn enthusiasts as one of the best on the East Coast. The experience did exceed expectations!
The eye candy for a fiber fanatic was mind-boggling. Not only were there scrumptious hanks of wool hanging at every turn; the attendees were all decked out in their fabulous hand-stitched finery as well. Live sheep and other furry animals, delicious fair-related food offerings and lastly knitting-related pottery and crafts were abundant. Two loops around the fairgrounds were sufficient to make some purchases and get a feel for the festival. I understand why people go back a second day to let the experience linger.
The festival was a crush of fiber-happy humanity. At certain points, you could not move. Several popular booths had long lines of happy consumers chatting with each other and comparing their purchases.
I observed, absorbed, explored and talked to many of the vendors and participants throughout the weekend. I learned that word-of-mouth is a powerful resource for creating interest and desire for certain artisans. As much as sales through the internet are a strong tool for crafters, that face-to-face shared experience of meeting an artist, seeing their creations in person and participating with them in a fun event can still be one of the best ways to connect an artist and consumer.
I have several local shows lined up in the next few months. Although they won’t attract the number of participants like Rhinebeck, they will be fun events to attend, shop and meet up with the creators of some fantastic art. Next up on my calendar is an annual craft show near Columbia, Maryland. I'll have lots of pottery with me including holiday gift ideas, serving pieces and decorative accents. I look forward to seeing you there!