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Another Great Year for Fiber at Common Ground!

The Wednesday Spinners Tent at the Common Ground Country Fair. English photo

The Wednesday Spinners Tent at the Common Ground Country Fair. English photo

December 1, 2016

Sales for the Fleece Tent – celebrating MOFGA's 40th Common Ground Country Fair – were once again very gratifying. They amounted to just under $11,500 in three days, with 235 "units" sold, representing about 880 pounds of Maine fiber. As always Friday was our busiest day, with sales of almost $7,000. This is great news for both the Fleece Tent committee and the 39 growers who had fiber in the sale this year. It confirms once again that the Fleece Tent is truly a top destination for fiber lovers from Maine and beyond in search of the best of Maine fiber.
Rae Reimer of Bittersweet Farm in Arundel served as our judge for Saturday's fleece show this year, fielding questions from observers and sharing her in-depth knowledge with all. Of the total of 33 entries, the following received ribbons and premiums: Wool, First – Jon Starr (Ellis River Farm, Rumford), Becky Bartovics (Cider Hill Farm, North Haven) and Joe Miller (Rivercroft Farm, Starks); Wool, Second – Amy Burchstead (Buckwheat Blossom Farm, Wiscasset) and Joe Miller (Rivercroft Farm, Starks); and Wool, Third – Elaine Cloutier (Shepherd's Purse, Abbot). In addition Elaine received the Wednesday Spinners Favorite Fleece ribbon, a finely crocheted medallion created by Kate Russell Henry of Southwest Harbor. Awards for Specialty Fibers were as follows:  Angora, First – plucked/colored, Beth Acker (Acker's Acres Angora, New Gloucester); Angora, Second – clipped/white, Beth Acker (Acker's Acres Angora, New Gloucester); and Angora, Third – plucked/colored, Beth Acker (Acker's Acres Angora, new Gloucester). All show participants received their judging forms with scores and judge's comments.
Many thanks to Fleece Tent co-coordinator Stacie Beyer of Levant, who recruited speakers and provided for a full schedule of well attended talks, demonstrations and informal discussions all three days.
We couldn't possibly put this sale and show together without the invaluable help from the many volunteers who join us each year. Thanks to all who helped with setup on Thursday, with the sale and show, and with breakdown on Sunday afternoon. It's always a huge job. Your enthusiasm for fiber is wonderfully contagious and your willingness to be a part of it all is greatly appreciated. And of course the sale wouldn't exist without all the hundreds of new and returning customers who flock to the tent every year. The Fleece Tent committee and the growers can't thank you enough for your continuing support of fiber in Maine.
"Across the way," the Wednesday Spinners tent had another busy, activity-filled weekend for all involved. A group of the spinners had spent the summer planning a bast fiber event, with the main focus on Saturday on growing and processing flax into linen. A comprehensive educational display was set up in the spinning area for the weekend; and the day included Susanne Grosjean's garden talk on growing and pulling flax and the process of retting the plants, followed by a full demonstration by members of the group – the flaxistas – working the tools to prepare flax for spinning: breaking, scutching and hackling. Barbara Clorite-Ventura gave an afternoon talk on the whole process, spinning and taking question from fairgoers, with the group spinning alongside her. On Sunday Michelle Finn spoke about and demonstrated processing dogbane, another bast fiber, into useable cordage.
There were talks on plant dyeing and drop-spindling as well, and wool spinning went on all weekend. The Maine Stoneworkers Guild's "pocket parket," home to the Wednesday Spinners dye-plant garden, was once again a great draw for fairgoers seeking a beautiful place to sit. The Earthloom™ – a gift from Susan Barrett Merrill and Richard Merrill of Weaving a Life in Brooksville, Maine – attracted many fairgoers throughout the weekend, and we welcomed everyone's creative additions to this year's tapestries. We were delighted to have spinners from around the state join us throughout the weekend.
Vendors in the Fiber Marketplace adjacent to the Fleece Tent reported brisk sales for the weekend. And as always, Dave Kennard and his border collies attracted large, enthusiastic crowds all three days of the Fair.
We encourage all Maine fiber growers to consider being a part of the fleece sale and show next year. To be added to our growers email group and/or to obtain information about the 2017 sale and show, please contact Penelope Olson at 207-785-2784 (Appleton) or [email protected]

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