By Marit Gookin
The fiber arts are a part of our daily lives – the clothes we wear, upholstery on chairs and couches, the sheets and blankets on our beds – but many people don’t think about them very often. Some people in Fremont County, however, are very excited about the things you can do and make with yarn and fabric, and once a year invite the community to come check out their handiwork and pick up some skills of their own. The Fremont County Fiber Arts Festival, which will be held at the Fremont County Fairgrounds this Saturday starting at 9 a.m., will feature a variety of crafts and fibers as well as some of the animals these fibers come from.
“We have everything,” remarked Cinde Pfisterer of the Fremont County Fiber Arts Guild, the organization that puts together the festival every year. “If anybody wants to do something, [the fiber arts guild] will give [the necessary supplies] to them, because it’s a dying art.”
There will be a wide variety of vendors from across the state there, and demonstrations on the hour of everything from crocheting to dyeing to embroidery. There will also be the annual kids’ center, which will have animals, coloring books and several activities throughout the day. Kids will have the opportunity to take loose, unspun yarn and form it into felted dryer balls, or to weave their very own potholder.
“Last year, some of the parents just sat down and did it right with them, because it’s so much fun,” Pfisterer commented.
Animals in the pen associated with the kids’ center will include sheep and angora bunnies; Pfisterer said that in previous years when she owned a poodle, she would even bring her dog sometimes. Her current dog doesn’t have a coat that works well for fiber arts, but she expects to see all kinds of interesting fibers including llama, alpaca, yak, angora and many more.
There are also plenty of options available for adults, too: the demonstrations are for people of all ages, the guild gives away door prizes all day long, there are many vendors who bring all kinds of interesting items and there will also be an area of seating for people who just want to come and work on their own fiber arts projects at the festival. The guild is also asking people to bring their own finished projects to show off, especially finished garments.
One of the highlights for Pfisterer every year is a group of artists from Jeffrey City who make wool pictures. “They are absolutely incredible,” she said. “I don’t know if anybody is doing that across the country … They paint a picture with wool.” The artists carefully select the wool to use for their images, dye it to just the right color, and create beautiful landscapes and other images; the one Pfisterer bought at a previous festival and has in her own home depicts someone climbing a mountain.
However, she added, “the most interesting thing is that it’s free … [and that] people are learning a heritage tradition, something that we’ve just let go.”
The Fiber Arts Festival will kick off at 9 a.m. on Saturday at the Fremont County Fairgrounds, and go until 3 p.m. The event is free and open to the public; people of all experience levels, from folks who have never touched a sewing or knitting needle to those who have been mending their own clothes and making their own mittens for decades, are invited to come out and have a good time learning from each other and admiring all of the different fiber arts things going on around the county and the state.
“I’m always sad when we don’t have an absolute thousand people in there,” Pfisterer said; she hopes to see the community out at the fairgrounds this Saturday.