We left Portland just before Black Sheep Gathering and the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival took place. So, when we got to San Antonio, one of the first things I did was to see if there was something comparable in the area. It is not an exaggeration to say that I had been counting down the days to Kid ‘N Ewe and Llamas Too, the fiber festival just outside of San Antonio in Boerne.
Besides the general thrill of being surrounded by this much color and texture, what I like about these events is that you get to meet the people behind the scenes–the dyers, the breeders, and the artisans that make and produce these fabulous fibers. These festivals are the fiber equivalent of farmers markets where you have the opportunity to meet the farmers directly and learn where your food comes from. Little A also likes learning about where these fibers come from, but she likes to go directly to the source and feed them.
I haven’t been to enough of these kinds of events to generalize, but what struck me about this small but long running (25 years) event is its deep roots to the Texan landscape. Here is a representative from the Mohair Council of America, which is based in Texas. Texas produces 90% of total US mohair. He facilitated a fascinating conversation with other angora goat breeders on the features of prize-winning goats and the different considerations that go into breeding them. Not only did they know their stuff but their knowledge was cumulative and historical, passed down from one generation to the next. I loved that during the talk, the breeders would talk about their daddies and cite their experiences and perspectives.
We also spent some time talking to these two men as they sat outside carving arrowheads. The tarp on the ground is not only to make cleaning easy but also to preserve the archeological integrity of the place. They didn’t want the shards to be left in the area. In the event that this landscape is studied many years from now, they didn’t want someone to mistake these shards as native to this location.
At one point, someone asked us where we were from. Normally, these questions put me a little on the defensive. And given how often I have moved, I’m never really sure how to answer that question. But somehow, at this event where origins are an important part of the story, I didn’t mind at all. “San Antonio” V answered. “Portland,” I added.