Md. Sheep and Wool Festival breaks fleece record

Staff Writer

WEST FRIENDSHIP, Md. (May 24, 2016) — The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival’s Fleece Show and Sale, according to officials, broke records this year for the number of fleeces entered and sold.
There were 1,157 fleeces entered and 730 of them sold for a total of 3,584 pounds of wool.
The fleeces came from 17 different states and buyers were from 25 states, plus Canada, Denmark and Russia, officials said.
The grand champion fleece was a white Corriedale entered by Goef Ruppert of Fairfield, Pa., that sold in the silent auction, bid up from the asking price of $168, to the final winning bid of $435.
The reserve champion fleece was entered by Polly Matzinger of Frederick, Md.
The top winners included:
Overall White Wool Premier Exhibitor - Steve Mandenhall
Shepherd Award - Tracy Sands
Supreme Champion Ram - Christian Day - Lincoln
Supreme Champion Ewe - Simmons/Wil-Hi Farm - Natural Colored White Wool
Supreme Fleece - Maria Rooney, Black Romney.
This year’s featured breed was Finn Sheep.
There was a showcase tent near the Main Exhibition Hall and there were special Finnsheep prizes in the Fleece Show and Skein & Garment competition.
According to the breed association, Finn Sheep provide the breeder with an easy to manage temperament and capability to enhance the quality of the wool clip.
They are also known in their native Finnland as Finnish Landrace and were first imported to North America into Manitoba, Canada in 1966.
Most Finnsheep in the United States are all white but are increasingly available in solid black and black and white piebald.
They are found somewhat less commonly in grey, brown and fawn.
The wool is highly praised by hand spinners since it blends so easily with other fibers.
The 2016 event was held May 7th and 8th at the Howard County Fairgrounds with 22 classes including 745 entries.