FORT WAYNE, IN --
On the north edge of Fort Wayne, IN, and just off of I-69 on DuPont Road is a small farmstead owned by the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department called Salomon Farm. Annually, on the second Friday and Saturday of May, the parks program holds their Fiber Arts Celebration on the grounds of the farm. The two-day event involves various aspects of the fiber industry including animals, fibers, tools, and demonstrations.
“We are really excited to be offering something new this year,” Outdoor Recreation Manager Karla Yauchler said. “There will be a petting farm where the animals are trained to sit in baskets and not move around.” The livestock was provided by Animal-Grams out of North Manchester. The small animals were very popular with the children and the baby potbelly pigs delighted the female attendees. Joni Cripe of Animal-Grams had kid goats, lambs, several rabbits, a chicken, and guinea pigs to pet and enjoy as well. Gentle Jack’s Alpaca Ranch was also there with stock to meet and feel their fiber.
Upon entering the vendor barn, a colorful array of fibers, tools and fiber products meets the eye with vendors coming in from a three-state region to sell their wares. A perennial favorite is 3L&S Farms from Jonesville, Michigan. Penny Swearingen raises Romney sheep and sells raw and processed wool, specialty dyed locks, and yarn from her booth. “I come back because of the heritage the celebration represents,” she said. “I love seeing the children and the family approach. I have some good friends that I have established through the festival.”
On the other side of the building was Windy Hill Alpaca Farm that hails from Pioneer, Ohio. Jerelyn Spangler, along with her husband Jim, offered yarn, rovings, and large bags of raw fiber from the animals in their flock. “We have been coming for 5 years and I enjoy the people,” Spangler said. “I feel I need to get my stuff out there for people to use for the various fiber crafts.”
Betty Barry’s shop was set up in the vendor barn as it is every year and she offers a number of tools for spinners. Little Shop of Spinning provides spinning wheels, dyestuff, various yarn winding tools, felting supplies, and books for different levels of fiber processing for the do-it-yourselfer. Barry and her shop are located in Fort Wayne and she wouldn’t think of missing the celebration. “I brought along an older wheel that was decoratively painted by a woman who never used it,” Barry said. “It has already sold. I always do well here.”
The big barn was the place to be to learn about the spectrum of fiber crafts. John Lindsey demonstrates the processing of flax into linen with a flax brake, which breaks up the stems; a hackle with the purpose of separating the fiber from the stem; and spinning it into yarn with a walking wheel. His additional pieces of equipment represented another time and place. Other demonstrations included drop spindle spinning, wet felting, and weaving with plastic grocery sacks.
Additional attractions include food, live music, sheep herding demonstrations, wagon rides, and the Maumee Valley Blacksmiths demonstrated the art of blacksmithing.
Admission to Salomon Farm Park is free for the Fiber Arts Celebration.