Last weekend, we made our annual pilgrimage to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinbeck, NY for the annual Sheep & Wool Festival. We first came up a few years ago with our dear friends who have a house in the area, and it has quickly become a tradition. It is sort of like the state fair, but smaller and craftier. Every kind of fiber-bearing animal is here: sheep (so many different kinds!), llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, angora rabbits, you name it. There are sheep dog trials and sheep shearing contests. Many of the food booths – not a strong point of the festival – serve lamb, which I find decidedly unappetizing in this context. But, there are caramel apples, artistic pumpkin carving, and a bizarre display of exotic animals (lemurs, kangaroos, Capuchin monkeys, an alligator) to make up for the mediocre food stalls. The fairway consists of a bouncy house, a big slide, a small carousel and a funny habitrail type contraption on the back of a truck. All around, people are knitting and carding and spinning. Being the novice knitter that I am, I actually feel like an outsider here, but I love walking around and looking at all of the random booths with every kind of wool and yarn and fiber arts supply you could imagine. Usually, I buy something with the optimistic hope that I will actually complete a project, but this year I am midway through making hats and scarves for my daughters – not to mention that I have a whole bunch of beautifully unused yarn from last year – so I mostly contented myself with taking photos instead. The stalls are a funny mix of old-time country (felted garden gnomes anyone?) and crafty hipster. My favorite vendor this year was Go Monkey Design. They make beautiful knitting supply cases and cool bags out of amazing fabrics. I purchased a beautiful fabric case for my growing collection of unused needles and you can, too, if you visit their Etsy store.
This year, however, it was clear that the hottest items were fair-trade woven baskets from Africa. Gradually, I noticed that every third person was walking around with one and when I finally found the booth, I couldn’t resist either.
After the fair, we made our way back to my absolute favorite place in the Hudson Valley, our friends’ house in Elizaville (but more on that later) for our annual fall dinner. This year, the menu was roast beef in a mustard herb crust with roasted root vegetables, spinach salad and cheddar biscuits. Dessert was milk and cookies along with a viewing of Mildred Pierce. The next day, we made pot pie with the leftovers. What could be better? It is now officially fall.
What are your fall traditions?