by Anne Podlesak
The scenic mountain town of Taos, NM, is the site of northern New Mexico’s best-known annual sheep and wool festival. Nestled in the southern Rocky Mountain chain and known for it’s great skiing and funky-crunchy vibe, Taos is home not only to a thriving outdoors, skiing and hiking community, but an artistic one as well.
The Wool Festival at Taos is located in scenic Kit Carson Park on the northeast side of town. The park is shaded by huge cottonwood trees, with ample, easily-accessed parking less than a 5-minute walk to the festival. (A quick stop at the well-stocked vistor’s center on the southern edge of town will give you some insider’s tips on the best place to park.)
The Taos Sheep and Wool Festival is held every year during the first weekend in October, giving visitors a chance to enjoy the great weather and gorgeous fall colors in the area.
This year, the festival showcased a wide variety of demonstrations throughout the day, from hand-shearing to needle felting, as well as weaving and spinning technique demos. The beautiful sunny weather had lots of visitors enjoying the outdoor atmosphere with live music off and on throughout the day, and 68 well-stocked vendor booths.
There were also live animals, for both purchase and for those visitors on an information-gathering visit, including yak, llamas, angora rabbits and, of course, sheep.
The vendor list encompasses a wide variety of artists.
There were several vendors selling gorgeous finished pieces – woven, felted, knitted and crocheted – so you could purchase several different kinds of ready-made fashion. Spindles and wheels were available in many different booths, as well as accessories such as shawl pins, glass buttons, and tools of the trade, including nostepinnes, swifts, knitting needles and crochet hooks. For those serious fiber shoppers, the fiber vendors covered the gamut from exquisite cashmere and alpaca laceweight in natural colors, to wildly painted art-yarns. Several booths also had raw fleeces and fiber for sale, if you enjoy working with fiber straight off the animal.
This festival combines the best of a small and large festival: Plenty of room to walk around, enough booths to find a great selection of items, but not so crowded that you can’t find a place to sit and enjoy a smoothie, a cold drink, or a lamb-burger. Of course, if festival-goers (or maybe their non-fiber friends) get tired of the demonstrations or shopping, downtown Taos, which is an easy, few-minute walk from the festival, provides more shopping opportunities, as well as galleries, the Kit Carson Museum, and other dining options.
However, if you come for the sheep and wool experience, you won’t be disappointed!
Photos © Anne Podlesak.