Will To Win! Entering Your Fleece at a Fair
It is great fun to enter a fleece or fleeces in shows. It is even more fun to win a prize! The time spent preparing the fleece is well worth the effort.
Of course, the fleece will be one of your very best. And it needs to be skirted…really well skirted. If in doubt, throw it out…is the mantra for skirting a show fleece. It is far better to have a smaller fleece, lighter in weight, than any undesirable or dirty wool in it. For me this can mean an hour or more of picking out hay chaff and tiny hay seeds, weed seeds, etc., for we have to supplement our pasture grazing. It can be done and done well. One of our fleeces won best in show last year at the Vermont Sheepbreeders Sheep and Wool Festival, and another, the top prize in it’s class at the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival. So with patience, you can prepare a really nice fleece.
Be gentle when skirting, keep the fleece sort of in “sheep shape”. This can be a challenge, especially with the lamb fleeces. There isn’t much lanolin to sort of stick it all together. You want to remove any “second cuts” left by the shearer. These are the short little bits of wool that result from shearing back over already shorn places. Some shearers are more focused on what the animal looks like when done, rather than the fleece…so kindly remind the shearer that the fleece is what is important, and the sheep can look a bit raggedy.
Never wash a fleece before a show. The judge want to see it clean, but as it came off the sheep. Be sure to remove any urine stained parts, or manure “tags”.
Most shows now want you to put the fleece in a clear plastic bag. Don’t wait until the last minute to find clear bags…sometimes it is hard to locate clear ones. There are usually some in your area, or on the web. Ask other fleece folks where they find them in your area. It used to be that the fleece had to be properly rolled and tied with paper twine. The last of the paper twine makers went out of business a while ago and so has the call to wrap and tie fleeces. Do not let your bagged fleece be in the sun, the fleece will sweat and moisture will build up in the bag…this can cause mold to form or an off odor. And do not tie the bag tightly for the same reason.
The particular event you are entering the fleece in will have rules about how to identify the fleece with your name and what class it is in, whether the fleece is for sale and how much you are asking for the fleece, whole, by the pound etc. Be thinking of this before you get there or send the fleece.
Getting there is important! Be there as early as you can for when they say the fleeces need to be entered by a particular time they mean it. Late comers are not allowed to enter. They have to inspect each fleece, organize the classes and be ready for the judging to start, so the volunteers really need your cooperation.
The classes for Icelandic fleeces can vary form one event to another. Try to pick the one most suited if you have a choice. If you are unsure, the person checking the fleece in can often help. If you are mailing the fleece, put a big note on it if you aren’t sure which class and ask them to help you by choosing the most appropriate one. Sometimes there are enough Icelandic fleeces for their own group, or it may be a Primitive breed class, a dual coated class, a long wool class etc. Read through their list of categories and pick the most appropriate one. Be sure to bring or send the correct paper work, the right entry fees etc.
So, pick your best fleeces, skirt them really well, bag them up and get them out there. It is great advertising, many future sales can come from showing your fleeces.. Ask questions, see which fleeces placed above and below yours and figure out why. And, have fun, that’s really what is all about.