Some great friends met us a Rhinebeck, and after it was over, one of my friends, Ginger Parker wrote this piece for us about our trip. I asked her if I could post it here with the pictures, taken by Karen Christensen. Enjoy!

The Sheep and Wool Festival, Rhinebeck, NY 2006

Yesterday was the perfect fall day. The air was crisp, but the sun was strong, the sky blue as a morning glory, and the trees downstate were wearing their most vivid fall colors. It was perfect for driving.

Karen and I drove in our car, Mary in hers. It was especially beautiful once we drove across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge looking up at that hill of orange, red and yellow maple trees with Olana, Frederic Church’s mansion, on top, rising into the blue. We drove down Rte 9G with more of the same colorful views but to the right, in the distance, was the silhouette of the Catskill Mountains as a backdrop. All that, plus listening to some great music as we drove,….priceless, as they say in the ads.

The road into Rhinebeck suddenly became bumper to bumper cars, but before long we got to the fairgrounds and parked. Lots of people, beautiful rolling hills, everything about it was delightful except for long, long lines for food. But the three of us had fun walking through the displays of colored yarns, watching the sheep dog trials, trying on knitted hats, and enjoying all the wares of the vendors, and more. And then, one by one, our cell phones buzzed in our pockets.

First to arrive were Amy, Selma and Jay who drove up from Washington, leaving at 6 a.m., with three friends. Their friends went off on their own, and the three Houck’s joined our party.

Then, buzz, buzz Molly, Lars and Hazel were here. We managed to get into a food line so that when they appeared from the parking lot, we presented mom and dad with cold Sam Adams beers and M & Ms for Hazel who had just woken from a long car nap and was ready to go.

Everyone got some food (except Lars who was holding out for trying the many assortment of lamb dishes that still had lines snaking around the food area). Karen had a really hard time with all that lamb being offered while the live sheep were being displayed and petted and stoked (and rounded up by sheep dogs). Karen never eats baby sheep.

The final cell phone call was Jed. He and his friend Katia found us, and they had already found hot spiced cider and donuts.

Now that we were all together, we took the little folks off to see the little Two by Two display of animals including: ring tailed lemurs two small red kangaroos and two pythons, one yellow the other black and white both slithering around in a glass cage.

Jed and Katia and Lars were hungry. They got in the “lamb” lines and ended up getting some delicious lamb kielbasa, lamb raviolis, green beans, and other tasty foods

On to find sheep, llamas (Hazel learned llama starts with TWO Ls) and Alpacas with cute faces, soft, soft, soft angora rabbits. We all, including Selma with her own little digital camera, photographed the many different and amusing looking sheep, Jacob Sheep with two pointy horns and curved horned rams, sheep with curly bangs and tall furry ears. We sang “Baa Baa Black Sheep” to the one black sheep we saw who also Baa Baad very loudly and scared little Jay to tears. His grandma quickly wheeled him out of the building in his stroller and managed to find something to calm him down. Was that when she bought the bag of incredibly delicious maple flavored cotton candy?

Molly, Karen and I went off in search for the perfect wool hat. Karen suddenly realized in the midst of it all that, that she is a cotton person.

We all found each other again and sat under a bright yellow maple tree that inspired us to take some fun and funny fall photos while sharing Mary’s maple spun sugar cotton candy.

Selma and Hazel were inseparable pals all day, and it was fun to tell them how their moms have been friends since they were three years old.

We still hadn’t found our hats so we went to another part of the fairgrounds where I found a hand knit beret, everyone tasted cheeses, sampled lotions, some sipped wine, and bought some maple products and goats milk soaps. Jed and Katia found a sheep skin that Jed couldn’t resist buying. Later, when he draped it like a cape over his shoulders, Karen said, “Aha, a wolf in sheep’s clothing!”

We really had fun.

We left the fairgrounds, drove into the very picturesque and charming town of Rhinebeck, spent an hour trying to find a restaurant that would seat all 11 of us and ended up in a tavern where we waited some more, each taking turns entertaining the kids who were under and on top of tables in the waiting area, with adults alternating going off to sample the offerings at the bar.

We ended up taking two tables in two different rooms, because by then were desperate to sit (all except Jay, who doesn’t sit for long anywhere) and eat so we could all get on the road.

Farewells and kisses, and happy folks all headed out for our various destinations around 9 p.m. with great memories of a perfect fall day of perfect fall activities. Perhaps we’ll all come
BAAA ck again next year!

Guest Post on Rhinebeck