The 2006 Nevada State Fair is now over. (Or it will be when I finish sorting through the bags and boxes and bins I brought home.) Aside from educating the public about fibers and having a lot of fun, my goal is to bring together the fiber producers with the fiber consumers. I think this year was successful in all these goals.
Saturday we had open judging of competition items by 3 amazing judges. Stephanie Gausted judged the handspun and handwoven items. She is both increadibly knowledgable and a great teacher, giving comments and encouragement for every entry.
Terry Mendenhall judged the Fleece & Fiber entries for the second year, and Sharon Chesnut judged the Mohair fleece. These are both wonderful judges who are so highly respected in their fields that folk will enter the competition just to hear their comments. All these judges were so good that we postponed the spinning contest until Sunday so everyone could listen to the judging.
Sharon was the big winner this year, winning Best of Handspun-handknit, Best of all Handspun, and the first-ever Best of Nevada-Grown (along with Mim). The Nevada Grown competition was created to celebrate fiber producer/finisher partnerships. Mim of Desert Peach Farm raised the shetland wool, and Sharon spun and knit the sweater. I earned my own pretty purple ribbon for my 3-ply icelandic skein, which topped the Handspun Skeins category.
Sunday started with a great workshop on fiber types given by Linda Loken. She had examples of every spinnable fiber imaginable and everyone learned a lot.
After that was the spinning contest, organized by Mim, and our very first Fiber Auction. I was particularly anxious that the auction would work out and be a positive event for both producers and buyers. The producers really came through for me! We had in the auction: 21 mohair fleece, 17 wool fleece(mostly colored, including fine, medium, long, and primitive), and 11 alpaca fleece. The quality level of these fleece was astounding. Although most of the wool and alpaca fleece were from northern Nevada, the mohair came from all over the west. The sale was handled as a silent auction, and about half the fleece sold. The producers were happy with this statistic, since it was our first attempt at a sale and the Nevada State Fair is a pretty small operation. From the outset, I wanted this first auction to get the word out so that we will be a magnet for fiberholics next year. So be sure to put it on your calendar!