Photo from the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.

Maryland Tradition: The 44th Annual Sheep and Wool Festival

05/05/2017
By Waxter Intern

Maryland hosts the largest and longest-running sheep and wool festival in the United States! It’s a Maryland tradition that teaches us about heritage breed conservation, historic spinning and weaving, and – it’s a fun and entertaining event taking place this month in Howard County.

Annual catalog, 2017.

The Maryland Sheep Breeders Association will host its 44th annual Sheep and Wool Festival this May on the Howard County Fairgrounds. Founded in 1974, it is the largest and longest-running sheep and wool festival in the United States. It began  as the Sheep and Wool Crafts Festival aimed to educate the public, and school-age children, about sheep and related crafts and culture. Early organizers hoped the festival would provide entertainment to community, as well as raise money for the Sheep Breeders Association.

Shown by it’s long run, the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, continues to provide education and entertainment – and is responsible for the conservation of heritage breeds. Their Youth Conservationist Program pairs younger shepherds with an experienced breeder who donates a yearling ewe for their sponsee to raise, promote at festivals, and use to start their own heritage breed flocks.

These days the event brings together up to 70,000 visitors over its two day period. And it’s programming has grown as well, from spinning, weaving, and shearing demonstrations in the early years, to woven and knitted garment shows, shearing competitions, various workshops and working dog demonstrations.

MARYLAND SHEEP AND WOOL FESTIVAL
MAY 6-7, 2017
HOWARD COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS

Attend the Festival

This post was written by Maggie Pelta-Pauls, a Waxter Intern with Preservation Maryland. A graduate of The College of William and Mary, Maggie is primed to research and write about Maryland history – especially culinary history. Learn more about Maggie and our The Waxter Memorial Internship program here: presmd.org/waxter.

Waxter Intern

A legacy gift from William D. Waxter, III established the Waxter Memorial Internship to help Preservation Maryland support the next generation in historic preservation.

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