Hmmm....Maybe those exclamation points were a little bit of overkill, but I get a little revved up for the Showcase. Maybe it's all the caffeine, or maybe it's the weeks of contact with vendors, performers, and demonstrators, but for me it is a high-energy kick-off to the summer season at Clermont. What is there to do at the Showcase? Let me show you:
Shop: Alright, so we're all watching our pennies these days, but there is something delicious about shopping in a farm-market atmosphere filled with small, independent vendors. I have 28 vendors this year, selling everything from raw fleece (Dutchess County Sheep & Wool Growers Association) to finely-finished handmade products (Crippenworks needle case pictured at right). For knitters and crafters, who look for yarn and roving, it's a brain-tingling explosion of color. I can never get over the colors of all those hand-dyed wools that are stacked in baskets, overflowing tables, and hanging tantalizingly from tent poles (Jill Draper Makes Stuff pictured at right).
Even if you're not a crafter, you can still find plenty to fill your canvas reusable shopping bags; handmade soaps, baskets, trinkets, and jewelry can all be procured, and because all of the vendors are local, you can rest assured that your money is supporting the Hudson Valley.
Touch: If you have kids, you are probably on the lookout for new experiences. As a new mom myself, I am always looking for ways to get my daughter to learn about animals and her environment. The Sheep & Wool Showcase offers children and grown-ups alike to come face-to-face with sheep (of course), llamas, goats, ducks, and herding border collies.
We also have a Kids' Crafts tent set up with activities for children ranging from three years to ten, and all of them give children a chance to see what they can do with their own hands. this year, the highlighted craft this year is making your own felted beads, which have been a hot seller for many stylish Etsy sites.
I have to be honest and tell you that one of the favorite kids' attractions is just our landscape. On a beautiful day, nothing burns off energy like letting them just run across acres of sun-drenched grass.
Learn: There are lots of new things to see and do at the Showcase. If you think you need to learn something to keep your hands busy while you are watching TV, the Showcase is a great place to learn or even perfect your existing skills. You have a host expert knitters, crocheters, spinners, and more laid out in front of you like a big Mall of Education. many of them are willing to share their knowledge with you. So if you're stuck on a sock heel or can't figure out how to finish off a cuff, bring your project along, and someone will know what to do.
If you prefer to just "watch how it's done," and you're not ready to do it yourself yet, there're plenty of opportunities for you as well. Spinning and weaving guilds will be on hand to demonstrate their arts, and sheep herding and sheering will be going on all day too! See a quick clip of our fantastic sheering demonstrator Fred DePaul below. Fred's knowledge of historic techniques (and his dry, dry humor), make him known far and wide as the sheep shearer to see.
Relax: If you can squeeze a moment out of your busy weekend to stop by the Showcase, you might just find yourself refreshed by a day of relaxation. Eat a sausage and pepper sandwhich (the Germantown Sportsmen are selling them to raise money to help local families buy toys at Christmas). Listen to live traditional music by Tamarak (clips from some of their members here) and the Acoustic Medicine Show. Breath fresh spring air, and share time with people you love (since we charge by the carload, not the person, we recommend filling every seat). You might be amazed by how good you'll feel at the end of the day, strolling back to your car with a full belly, a little bag of Cat's View Soaps, and that good tired that comes from walking all over the fair grounds.