If you are near the Maryland (Howard County) area this weekend, you might want to check out the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival http://www.sheepandwool.org/
To me, it's like Christmas and my birthday rolled into one - except _I_ am the ones getting all the gifts;) Sure somebody will get something I've crocheted out of the yarn - heck, I might even buy somebody a gift from there. (it's happened before).
But I want to give you a few pointers if you plan to go to MSWF. It is free admission but I'm sure you won't get out of there without spending any money - I know I can't;)
First, wear comfortable shoes. I know, seems like a no-brainer, but it makes a difference. I was clumping around sheep & wool last year with a brace on my foot (still recovering from the broken leg) and comfortable shoes made all the difference. You will be walking a lot - from the huge parking lot through out the shops, it is a trek with sometimes uneven ground. Maybe if you walk a lot, you won't think it's a big deal. But for me who spends most of her week behind a desk, it's a lot of walking.
Unless your dog is a helper animal (say a guide dog), please leave your dog at home. MDSF does not allow any animals into the festival unless they are working at the festival. They will make you leave your dog in your vehicle. And they will also notify the Howard County police that you have a dog in the car - it will probably be warm and sticky and dogs generally are not too happy to be left alone in a hot and sticky car.
Dress appropriately - it might start off cool in the morning, but get progressively warmer as the day goes on. The last weather report I seen called for occasional thunderstorms, so you might want to take an umbrella along. If you have created a beautiful article of clothing with yarn, this is the time to wear it. You will receive so many compliments and questions regarding your creation. It's just nice to be with people who "get it".
If you want the festival's logo stuff, there is an express line available - one size, one style, one color. However, if you don't fit into that particular size, you can order your shirt online anytime through out the year. Yes, you do have to pay postage and handling. But it's better than waiting over an hour in a line while I'm out buying up all the good stuff. Plus you can use more money for the MDSF and buy the stuff you generally can't get somewhere else.
They added more porta-potties this year, so that's a good thing. But you may not want to drink that Big Gulp while walking around the festival. You still got to wait to use the porta-potty. And while you're in the porta-potty, well, you know I'll be out there buying all the good stuff;) I could suggest adult diapers, but I'm not so sure anybody wants to go that far.
Carry cash as well as a credit card. Some shops only accept cash. Sometimes it's easier to pay cash for an item than to wait in line for the credit card buyers. There are ATMs at MSWF. Of course, you want to exercise all your usual precautions with money and charge card usage at the MSWF. Yarnies are a goof bunch of people, but it's always possible a bad apple has slipped in with the bunch. Not that I have ever had it happen at MSWF or even know of anybody that it has happened to, just throwing it out there for you to consider.
If you want something, or think you do, pick it up and hold onto it. You can always put it back if you don't decide to buy it, but there's a good chance it will be gone if you decide to come back for it. So if that great yarn is calling your name, you may want to consider strongly buying it. I know if I double back to a shop, I can't find whatever it was I liked. And I hate to admit, I do get confused and forget which shop had the item I was dying to buy.
Make sure you collect any business cards or info from the sellers. They may have other products that you would like but they just couldn't bring with them. Many places have online shops and mail order catalogs. You can drool over the yarn at home and make your choices when you are (or might be) more clear headed.
I always get overwhelmed by MSWF. So much yarn, so many books, sheep and lambs, alpacas and angora bunnies. They have a spot there that sells plants and will hold them for you until you are ready to leave the festival. They have Australian dusters. There's beautiful needlework and artwork to examine. There are musicians playing. And than there is the food...
Almost anything you could want to eat you can buy at MSWF. If you love to eat lamb, you will have a lot of choices for breakfast, lunch or dinner. And of course, there's the usual funnel cakes and cotton candy, hot dogs and hamburgers and sometimes stuff that sounds intriguing - deep fried Snickers, for example. It's all good. You don't want to eat so much you fall asleep, however. If you do, I will probably be picking thru your stuff, stealing your yarn. Not that I have ever done that - yet. Apparently, people don't sleep that deep ;)
Some people go both Saturday and Sunday. I only go Saturday because I don't want to be broke;) I've never been on a Sunday but there are those who say it is less crowded on a Sunday. And I would think you would be able to score some deals because the sellers don't want to pack it all up and take it back home. But I don't know because I've never done it.
I hope this helps prepare you for the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2010. I don't get a kickback (boy, would I love that!) from anyone for writing this particular article.
as always _enjoy_