So, I went to Rhinebeck for the first time. If you didn't know, it's also called the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival (I found that out later and was confused). I didn't realized that the festival was held in the town of Rhinebeck NY. This whole experience was so overwhelming that I bought one skein of yarn to make socks with (Whitebirch Fiberarts in Rainbow Warrior).
I had heard of this Rhinebeck thing before, but me and my compadres really had no idea what to expect. Being in Pennsylvania, it wasn't a far drive for us. We figured that if it wasn't our cup of tea, home wasn't too far away. Honestly, I think I was just really excited to get out of the house and go on a road trip, but holy Corriedale sheep Batman; it was AMAZING!
Now, I could go on and on about all of the things we did, saw, bought and ate, but a lot of that content is already out there. Instead, I thought I would talk about what I wish I already knew about going to Rhinebeck and start planning for next year! That's right people! The countdown has begun! October 15th and 16th 2022!!!
So if you are thinking about going and are also a newbie like we were, here are some lessons we learned. If you are a weathered and experienced Rhinebecker, feel free to leave a comment below and share any knowledge you think is useful.
1. You don't need a Rhinebeck sweater
Have y'all heard about this Rhinebeck sweater thing? Well, it's not a requirement, just in case that was stopping you. Even GG thought it was something specific you had to make. Now, there are a lot of handmade sweaters and a lot of the same type of handmade sweater (Andrea Mowry writes a pattern for the event every year), but there is so much more! People are wearing their hats, socks, dressed, bags...so many amazing things to see! You won't get turned away or shunned if you're not wearing something handmade, I promise.
2. Bring some cash
We stood in a very long line to get some infamous apple cider donuts moments before a big storm arrived only to see the "cash only" sign hidden behind the tip jar. We had enough for 3 donuts and thankfully it was worth it. I didn't encounter any fiber vendors that took only cash, just food. And be prepared to stand in some long lines; bring your making.
4. Crossword puzzle
I'm not sure why we didn't grab an event booklet on our first morning. Well, Sunday morning I did and found a crossword puzzle in the back. If you complete the crossword puzzle (we didn't) and figure out the hidden treasure clue on Saturday, you can take it to the Souvenir Tent for a 30% discount code. But let me warn you, that puzzle is legit.
So, there are a couple of events that happen prior to the actual NY Sheep and Wool Festival. The one I regret not going to was Wool and Folk that happened the Thursday before Rhinebeck. It was held next to a lake in Kingston NY and just looked like an amazing time. I don't know when they will plan it for next year, but I've signed up for the newsletter so I don't miss it.
Another event that happened was Indie Untangled in Saugerties NY. This was another opportunity to shop in a more intimate venue. They also did a virtual shopping event and I believe they plan to continue it. And finally, this was the first year for CAKEpalooza. This was another marketplace event, also in Saugerties NY.
6. Which hill is "The Hill"?
Leading up to our trip to Rhinebeck, I kept hearing about meet ups with designers and other fiber enthusiasts on "The Hill." As we roamed about Saturday morning, we had no idea which hill was "The Hill." The area is not flat, so there were options. It's also not on the map because meeting at this spot is not an official festival event. So if you get a little anxious with directions and finding places (it me), I'm here to tell you not to worry. Here's what you do; just go to the memorabilia tent about 10 minutes before your meet up time and look to your left (north/west). There will be a swarm of hand made sweaters on a tiny hill. You're welcome.
7. Rhinebeck is more than a fiber festival
It's a village! Turns out, it's a really cute village that's in walking distance from the fairgrounds. I would have enjoyed exploring the shops a little and trying out a cute restaurant at least one of the nights. The area around Rhinebeck is also beautiful and we saw lots of opportunities for hiking and experiencing nature in general. If this is your sort of thing (and your feet aren't hurting from the actual fiber festival), you can add this to your list of things to do while visiting.
I believe my bestie had asked me if there would be enough to do for 2 days at this festival. The answer is yes and more! So many people traveled far distances to come experience Rhinebeck, and I can see why. If you would be traveling far, it would be a fantastic idea to plan a lengthier vacation even with family or friends who are not makers.
I hope this list is helpful and if I've convinced you to come next year, let me know! We can meet on the hill. I'll be wearing my Rhinebeck socks.