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1st Annual Wool Festival Celebrating the Wool Harvest


1st Annual Wool Festival Celebrating the Wool Harvest

By Paula Downing

Did you know that Sonoma County had 29,542 sheep with an economic value of $5,199,500 roaming the hills last year?  

The Valley Ford Wool Festival is designed to honor everything wool and the sheep and other animals who we harvest wool from.  This first ever celebration of Sonoma (and Marin) County wool will take place on Saturday and Sunday, May 17th & 18th at the Valley Ford Mercantile and Wool Mill in downtown Valley Ford.

It’s going to be a weekend filled in exploration with beauty for the senses and opportunities to experience wool in a variety of ways, from seeing it and feeling it in different stages of processes (there is nothing quite like the feel of wool!), from shearing/spinning/weaving/knitting demonstrations to the Mill’s interactive felting booth and so much more!

Walk back in time and fall in love with the work of the artisans – weavers, spinners, and knitters who make beautiful things from wool and other natural means. 

Tour the new Valley Ford Wool Mill that is currently producing comforters, pillows, custom designed mattress pads, and other home furnishing all made with organic cotton coverings. Included are dog beds & coats, people coats & vests, baby wears and more. Be among the first to enter the Mercantile’s new side store that will be featuring local only food fair and goods.

Eat delicious lamb dishes (and other locally sourced foods) prepared by dedicated chefs with loving hearts. Taste cheeses made from local sheep milk, all the while enjoying LIVE music throughout the days!

Bring your kids to enjoy the lambs playing in the fields.

All this will be taking place in a venue that feels like the last century, or the one before - Valley Ford – a place that nurtures your well being as soon as you enter this stunning, lush and precious valley.

The Wool Festival and Mill comes from the heart and sweat of Ariana Strozzi & Casey Mazzucchi, both owners of VF Mercantile & Wool Mill and local ranchers in Valley Ford.  Their goal is to “Revolutionize Wool” – to bring it back into our lives as clothing, bedding,  home accessories and to educate on the healing benefits of wool, and enjoying living eco-friendly lifestyles.

Ariana on wool and eco-friendly practices:  “Wool is a healthy, clean, real fiber that is sustainably grown in comparison to other fabric, unlike conventional cotton production, for example, an industry which uses ½ of all the pesticides in the United States plus a variety of toxic dyes. Our skin is a big sponge, it absorbs all the toxins in cotton and synthetic fibers, which, for some people, leads to illness.  

In these times when we are so out of balance ecologically, a return to wool in our clothing, bedding and home accessories is a return to a lighter footprint. Wool gives us the opportunity to reconsider consumerism – wool lasts!”

One of our very special guests is Ramblers Way, by Tom & Kate Chappell, the founders of Tom’s of Maine natural personal care products, who have developed a wool clothing line from Rambouillet sheep that provides a ‘rare superfine grade wool’ that is soft, and not itchy – which is one of the complaints about wool - the itchiness factor.

Tom & Kate have done their homework about wool. All of their products are made in the USA. The sheep are raised by farmers in Colorado, Montana, Nevada, and Maine.    Their cut and sew operations are based in South Carolina and New England. Chris Chappell, son of Tom and Kate, lives in Sonoma County and will be at the festival, introduce yourself and ask for a conversation as Chris holds a wealth of information on the newest technologies used to produce this new line of woolen garments as well as the eco standards they live by.

Ramblers Way will host a an elaborate “Trunk Show” at the festival where you can ask all the questions you might have about their fine products which include durability, comfort ability and excellent quality. Best, is that you, like me, will be AMAZED at the silky softness! You can also find Ramblers Way’s high quality products inside the Mercantile at any time.

Fibershed is joining the festivities and hosting a natural dye focused booth with natural dye demos; dye your own scarf; dye plants, signed books and naturally dyed yarns for sale. They are setting up their signature all wool made yurt that has some of Valley Ford Wool Mill’s wool in it!

Another very honored guest is Pam Marshall and her inspired knitters and teachers from Balls & Skeins yarn shop in Sebastopol.

A few of the artisans, spinners, weavers, and wool color artists from your own backyard include: Karen Emrey of Royale Hare – Karen has 40 years of experience spinning, dying and knitting with wool.  Her colors are beautiful, inspired by nature – apples, the ocean.   

Robin Hough-Chapin of Fleece to Garment makes fantastic knitted scarves, woven shawls, wooden buttons, felted boots for adults and kids. 

Marta Shannon from Tactile Sensations specializes in blankets, ponchos, shawls, and felted children’s toys.

Judy Tomsky of Natural Touch Beads will be offering a full line of beautiful resin beads, bangles and other bead related items.

There are too many AMAZING vendors attending the festival to give credit to here, we hope you will join us to meet them yourselves!

We sincerely and heartily invite you and your family to be part of the local Revolution of Wool at the very first Valley Ford Wool Festival on May 17th and 18th from 10am-5pm! 

Hope to see you there and celebrate the wonders of wool with you!


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