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2018: Another Great Year for Great Fiber at Common Ground

Spinners outside the dye garden. John Williams photo

Spinners outside the dye garden. John Williams photo

January 2019

Sales for the Fleece Tent at MOFGA’s 42nd Common Ground Country Fair were again very gratifying. The 214 units sold represented about 675 pounds of Maine fiber, with Friday as our busiest day. This is great news for both the Fleece Tent coordinators and the 33 growers who had fiber in this sale. The results reconfirm that the Fleece Tent is a top destination for fiber lovers from Maine and beyond seeking the best of Maine fiber.

Rae Reimer of Bittersweet Farm in Arundel judged Saturday’s fleece show, fielding questions from observers and sharing her in-depth knowledge. The show highlighted some of the best of the best in fiber from nine participants. The following received ribbons and premiums: wool, first – Becky Bartovics, Cider Hill Farm, North Haven; Ryan Dennett, Crescent Run Farm, Gardiner; Wanatha Garner, Long Cove Farm, Vinalhaven for both her white and colored entries; Joe Miller, Rivercroft Farm, Starks; and Jon Starr, Ellis River Farm, Rumford for both his white and colored entries; wool, second – Ryan Dennett, Crescent Run Farm, Gardiner; Katia Holmes, Misty Brook Farm, Albion; and Joe Miller, Rivercroft Farm, Starks; wool, third – Katia Holmes, Misty Brook Farm, Albion.

Wanatha Garner also received the Best in Show award for her stunning colored Merino fleece.

Awards for specialty fibers were as follows: angora, first – clipped/colored, Beth Acker, Acker’s Acres Angora, New Gloucester; second – plucked/colored, Beth Acker, Acker’s Acres Angora, New Gloucester; and third – white/clipped, Beth Acker, Acker’s Acres Angora, New Gloucester. Acker also received the Best Specialty Fiber award for her colored, clipped fiber. Show participants received their judging forms with scores and judge’s comments.

Although not a participant in the show itself, Jenni Johnson of Eolian Farm in Newcastle received the Wednesday Spinners Favorite Fleece award, a finely crocheted medallion created by Kate Russell Henry of Southwest Harbor. It is awarded by the spinners to the producer of their favorite fleece – in this case a soft Finn – among the many they purchase each year at the Fair.

Many thanks to Fleece Tent co-coordinator Stacie Beyer of Dixmont, who recruited speakers who provided a full schedule of well-attended talks, demonstrations and informal discussions all three days, and to co-coordinator Gabi Montoya-Eyerman for going to early-morning planning team meetings, greeting arriving volunteers, fetching and distributing T-shirts and meal tickets, and helping Fleece Tent customers throughout the weekend.

Thanks, also, for the invaluable help from the many volunteers, new and returning, who join us each year to help with setup on Thursday, with the sale and show, and with break-down on Sunday. It’s a huge job. Your enthusiasm for fiber is wonderfully contagious, and your willingness to be part of it all is greatly appreciated. Also, the sale wouldn’t exist without the hundreds of new and returning customers who flock to the tent. The Fleece Tent committee and the growers can’t thank you enough for your continuing support of Maine fiber.

The Wednesday Spinners tent had another activity-filled weekend. Rather than scheduled talks, each spinner spent the weekend “spinning her passion” and sharing information. In addition, we were delighted to have spinners from around Maine join us throughout the three days.

The Maine Stoneworkers Guild pocket park, home to the Wednesday Spinners dye-plant garden, drew fairgoers seeking a beautiful place to sit. The EarthloomTM – a gift from Susan Barrett Merrill and Richard Merrill of Weaving a Life in Brooksville – attracted many fairgoers, and we welcomed everyone’s creative additions to the 2018 tapestries.

Vendors in the Fiber Marketplace adjacent to the Fleece Tent reported brisk sales, and David Kennard and friends with their border collies drew large, enthusiastic crowds.

We encourage all Maine fiber growers to consider joining the 2019 fleece sale and show. To be added to our growers’ email group and/or FMI, please contact Penelope Olson at 207-785-2784 or [email protected].


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