Fiber Arts & Animals Festival

Our Story
 

In 2005, we met the owner of Side Track Ice Cream and had a long discussion about different aspects of the llama industry and what people would like to see at different fairs and festivals in Southern Michigan. With very short notice, we jointly decided to bring some llamas to Side Track and see how folks would react. With no advertising except for a sign on the lawn, we had over 50 people visit our one booth. We had no product to sell. We had two llamas to show people and, of course, we talked all day. I vividly remember being exhausted from all the talking we did that day. Those who stopped by were enthusiastic and we definitely enjoyed their company. We talked to Dave Stevenson about repeating the event our event.

The next year, we set out to start the festival with a mission. What were we trying to provide? After much discussion, we decided that we knew we did not want to be just another venue for people to purchase specialty yarn. We did not want to be a flea market. We settled on a mission to provide an educational venue for the public while allowing those involved in the fiber industry to sell their art. Our mission would be futher refined later. However, we now had a goal. Our festival had seven exhibitors.

This was a great year to learn not only about what we were providing to the public but about those who exhibited their art. We now had a small advertising budget. We added flyers to some businesses and we had one newspaper ran our advertisement. This was the first year we started charging exhibitors a small fee. Our door-prizes were well received and allowed those interested in fiber art but not ready to invest in tools of the trade to test their artist skill with felting kits, small rugs and other items. Our youngest winner could barely hold the prizes he won. In 2007, we estimated we had over 500 people attend and 10 exhibitors.

In 2008, we now have a bigger advertising budget, many exhbitors that have been with us since the beginning are still with us today. Our website continues to get our message out to people. It is in a continual state of flux. The weather was perfect! We definitely had more people in 2008 than any other year of the festival. All the exhibitors' booths had patrons in them nearly all day. Our advertising, signs and internet postings seemed to provide much more interest this year than in prior years.

As we move forward to 2009, we expanded our festival. On Octoboer 3 and 4, 2009, we were at Turkeyville USA in Marshall, Michigan. We were excited about working with Cornwell's Turkeyville. I approached the Running With Scissors Art Quilt group about exhibiting their art quilts at our Octoboer 2009 event. They were very gracious in accepting my invitation. We hae great interest in our October festival.

In 2010, the Icelandic Sheep Breeders of North America decided to hold their Annual Group Meeting at our October event. With their AGM, we are also hosting the National Icelandic Sheep Show. We are looking forward to another great year.

The AGM went well.  There were farms represented from most of the country.  A great group of people.  The day concluded with everyone thanksing those who attended and the end of another great year.  The modest weather likely kept some folks from attending.  In 2011, we plan on only holding one show to concentrate on our wonderful success we had at our June event.