Textile treasures plentiful at Fiber Fest

Apr. 05, 2013 @ 11:00 PM

Most of the time, getting fleeced by a salesman is a bad thing for the customer. But for people who come out to the Carolina Fiber Fest today or Sunday at the Lions Club Fairgrounds in search of soft fleeces, wools and other fibers, it will be a treat.

The event, in its seventh year, has been held in Raleigh for the past five years. But Sanford has it for at least this year, which will give locals the opportunity to buy from local farms and weavers, and to learn more about where many textiles come from.

Hands-on activities will also be held for children both days, as well as sheep shearing and herding demonstrations and classes about spinning, knitting, pattern design and soap making. The festival, which is free to enter but does feature many vendors selling their wares, runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

Carolyn Beasley, whose family owns Heelside Farms in Johnston County, is organizing the event. She brought along a few of her sheep — there are many breeds at the festival, plus goats, alpacas and rabbits twice the size of bowling balls but much fluffier — and said people will be able to look at the animals but not pet them. She said some people are surprised, but sheep are abundant in North Carolina.

“But most of them are in small herds,” she said. “We’ve got about 100 (sheep) in our herd ... but most herds have 15 to 20.”

Elaina Kenyon, who owns Avillion Farm in Orange County with her husband, raises rabbits, sheep and goats. The doctorate-holder in toxicology splits her time between farming and working as a scientist.

“I grew up on a meat and dairy farm, went off to school and did the professional thing, and decided I wanted to come back to farm life,” she said. “I didn’t want to do meat, but I had learned to spin (yarn) along the way, so I got into fiber.”

Kenyon is one of many vendors setting up at the festival, and they’re not just selling yarn. There’s also pottery, jewelry, accessories and more.