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  • Cornell Cooperative Extension

On Sat., Oct. 9, over two hundred fiber enthusiasts – knitters, crocheters, spinners weavers, and felters, descended on the Chemung County Fairgrounds for the Fall Festival and Indie Dyer’s Spectrum Fiber Fest. The event, a partnership between Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) Chemung County, the Chemung County Agriculture Promotions committee, and the Indie Dyer’s Spectrum—a regional group of hand-dyed yarn and fiber artisans—boasted vendors, demonstrations, food, live animals, and a day of 4-H recruitment activities.

“Fiber production is a growing industry in Chemung County,” said CCE Chemung County Executive Director Michelle Podolec. “With the growth of new solar farms in our region, there are emerging opportunities for solar grazing under panels for sheep."

“Regional events and market attractions like the Fall Festival and Indie Dyer's Spectrum benefit our local economy and agricultural producers,” Podolec added. “I'm excited to bring fiber artists and producers to Chemung County to see the beautiful fairgrounds and explore the market potential for their products.”

Attendees browsed over 50 vendors, ranging from local artisans to regional fiber producers. Fiber guilds from the Southern Tier, Chemung Valley, and Genesee Valley held raffles and put on demonstrations such as a sheep study with samples from various breeds, flax processing, and spinning demonstrations of silk and cotton.

“I’m so grateful for this partnership and opportunity to be here in Chemung County,” said Sandy Long of The Woolroom at Longmeadow Farm in Freedom, N.Y. Long creates luxury yarns with hand-dyed farm-raised wool and organizes the Indie Dyer’s Spectrum.

4-H staff members Sasha Diederich and Elaine Noble helped plan the festival and used the opportunity to host their annual 4-H recruitment event, which featured community displays, vendor visits, and guild presentations to learn about fiber animals and try spinning fiber.  

“I think this event was a huge success,” said Nikole Watts, vice chair of the Chemung County Agriculture Promotions Committee and the festival’s lead organizer. “For this partnership to come together in just five months before the start of the event and hosting the great vendors and people that we had, I couldn't be happier. We are very much looking forward to next year.”

Plans are already being made for next year’s festival, with an eye toward growing the festival and hosting a wool sale.

“I saw so many happy faces and received positive feedback from the event's visitors, 4-H families, youth, vendors, and partners. I hope to see even more great vendors and outreach activities in 2024,” said Podolec.

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