5 Reasons You Need To Attend MDSW
The Annual Maryland Sheep And Wool Festival Is Good For Ewe – Here Is Why!
My all-time favorite event of every year is the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.
Think of it as a sheep aficionado’s nirvana come to earth – it is a concoction of anything and everything sheep. And wool.
Do you think it’s about cute sheep?
Or about what people do with their wool?
Or possibly a good place to try some lamb kabobs?
Or maybe where you would purchase a flock of sheep for yourself?
“Ewe’s right on all counts”
It is the Nation’s largest event of it’s kind, and draws thousands of visitors to the West Friendship, MD Fairgrounds in early May every year.
Over 400 vendors of sheep,yarn,lamb, wool, knitting implements, artwork, workshops, classes, sheepdog trials, and anything that has anything to do with “the sheepish ones”
Here are my top five reasons to be there:
5. The Peacefulness:
Walking through the sheep barns during the days when there are thousands of people milling about, reminds me that peace can be found in the storm. The sheep are just chillin’, chewing their cud, every now and then there will be a “Baaah” to be heard, and many of them are definitely groveling for some chin scratches and some attention. No matter what’s going on outside their pens – they are at peace.
How life should be dealt with.
4. The People:
For some reason, sheep people tend to be very even-keeled, friendly, and – for lack of a better explanation – normal. Down to earth. Matter of fact. Fun-loving. Awesome people.
Many have a deeper understanding of life in general – what is and is not important. I love that – it reminds me that in fact not everything in life is about politics, money, fame, fortunes, video games, or social media. It’s about being part of the bigger picture in nature as human beings. Quite lovely, that.
3. The Food:
Lamb is quickly becoming the better red meat – it has a long-standing tradition in other countries, but is becoming more and more popular here in the US as well. Because it is delicious.
You can get some lamb stew. Lamb kabobs. Rack of lamb. Leg of Lamb. Lamburgers. Sheep cheese. Sheep Butter (my personal favorite). And possibly a few other things as well.
Yeah, I’d eat all of it.
But if that isn’t your thing, there are quite a few other vendors in food carts there as well – with the usual fair food choices, but also some more obscure things like baklava, or which ever other food trucks are there that year. Last year there was a new vendor there – from Syria, if memory serves me right. A fantastically friendly family of four, serving probably the best food I’ve ever had at a fair. I seriously look forward to seeing them there again – not just for the food, but to chat with them. It was one of my highlights there last year.
2. The Sounds:
If you get there on Friday when the sheep are being set up in their pens for the weekend, the sounds of them baaaahing and maaaahing to eachother, or calling for their buddies they left at the farm, is a beautiful thing to hear. It’s about as close to maaaahem as you can get with sheep – and yet, with all that hollerin’, there still is this peaceful vibe in the barns. I make it my mission to at least walk through the sheep barns twice while I’m there – to meet some sheep, see what all the different breeds are, to watch some of the kids trimming, washing, and walking their sheep between the sheep judging events. It’s so nice to see kids and teenagers doing something beyond just snapping snapchats and selfies…
1. The Sheep!
They are the stars of the festival – families flock through the barns, with pudgy little hands reaching to pet the sheep that are huge to the little one. Hipster knitters in their gaggles flock through, ooohing and aaahing and taking selfies with the sheep. Older gentlemen strolling through the barns, scratching the odd sheep under its ears. Sheep farmers talking shop about microns (the measurement for the fineness of the wool), farming implements, and breed standards.
The show ring showcases all the breeds, and is fascinating to watch and learn from, as the judges choose the best in breed, and explain what they are after in terms of “what makes this a good sheep”.
And, add to that the vendors selling everything from knitting needles, to spinning wheels, to fleeces, to yarn of all kinds, to felting supplies, to angora rabbits, goats,honey, brooms, kilts, jewelry, lamb meat, sheep shearing clippers, soap made with lanolin, socks, sheep paintings (Stop by my booth! Look for Sheep Incognito in the outdoor vendor area on the main drag!), buttons, weaving looms, and all kinds of interesting things.
Or, if you are interested in new skills for your life – join some of the workshops! Learn to spin, knit, dye yarn, felt, breed sheep, crochet, weave, or whatever else is on the workshop menu…the instructors travel from near and far, and are quite often stars in their own right.
Either way – make this one an annual trip…it is truly one of America’s national treasures, I think.
Check their website (opens in new window) for information, dates, workshop registrations: