On Friday and Saturday, Salomon Farm Park will host a festival that will help your family become more close-knit: The Fiber Arts Celebration will feature live animals, demonstrations and vendors with plenty of crafted textiles and fiber art products to buy.
The park was originally owned by the Salomon family and was a working farm until land from the farm was donated in 1996 to become a city park. The park was designed to portray a farm from the 1930s.
“During the warm season, we have animals for people to meet and greet,” said Renee Sinacola, the Fort Wayne Parks coordinator for the fiber festival.
It is that farming heritage that linked the Fiber Arts Celebration with Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation.
“(The celebration) got started more as a vending opportunity for people who sell raw materials to the public,” Sinacola explained. After several years, the educational/demonstrative part of the festival was added so that, today, it demonstrates the “art and practicality” of fiber arts.
For the celebration this year, visitors should expect to see textile fibers in the raw form and in the finished state.
“We have someone there with sheep and shearing — they explain the whole process,” said Sinacola.
Because turning raw sheep's wool into yarn takes a long time, only the beginning and final steps are demonstrated at the festival. For the festival, llama, alpaca, plant fibers, angora fur and sheep wool will all be used in demonstrations for the public.
Demonstrations are handled by members of the Flax and Fleecers Spinning Guild of Fort Wayne. The guild is co-sponsoring the festival and will plan and provide for all the activities. Betty Barry, who operates The Little Shop of Spinning, has attended the Fiber Arts Celebration since it began. She demonstrates spinning, the process of turning raw fiber product into yarn.
Barry first became interested in her craft about 25 ago, when she attended the Johnny Appleseed Festival. Barry found a local expert who showed her how to spin, and now she sells spinning wheels and supplies to spinners and felters.
Barry enjoys the multigenerational appeal of her art, noting that the guild has members who range in age from teenagers to octogenarians.
“One of the responsibilities of the guilds … is to offer hands-on experience to the kids,” she said. As both a teacher of spinning and a demonstrator for the Fiber Arts Celebration, Barry said, “It's always fun to see them have a good time and to introduce (kids) to fiber.”
Visitors to the event also will be able to purchase tools of the fiber arts trade, such as knitting needles, spinning wheels and looms. Finished products, such as sweaters and shawls, will also be available for purchase, as will roving (raw, cleaned and processed wool) and yarn.
The festival will be an indoor/outdoor event. Demonstrators will explain their crafts in the big barn, while vendors will be in a nearby building. Live animals will be outside.
“I really encourage people to come out — (even) just to see the alpacas,” said Sinacola.
“It's a wonderful family event to introduce kids to the fibers and animals,” added Barry.