Woolfest Cockermouth 2012

by David Murray on 22 June 2012

in Cockermouth

Today was a wet day in Cumbria! In fact that’s almost an understatement but in spite of the weather crowds descended on Mitchell’s Livestock Centre at Cockermouth, venue for the annual Cockermouth “Woolfest” organised by “The Wool Clip”. Yes, you needed waterproofs to get from the car park but once inside, protected from the elements there was a real buzz. I can now understand why Woolfest has been awarded Cumbria Tourism’s “Event of the Year” award

Cockermouth Woolfest 2012

Never having been before I was surprised by its scale. The picture above, taken through a somewhat cloudy upstairs window in the auction ring area, shows scarcely 20% of what was there. The next shot shows once of the aisles and people happily engaged in scrutinising the various products on display, wool of course being everywhere.

Cockermouth Woolfest - people at stalls

Cockermouth Woolfest – The Animals

Without the animals there would be no wool, and one feature of Northern England over many centuries has been its flocks of upland sheep. In fact without the sheep our beautiful Lakeland Fells would not have the character they possess today – something the authorities might well ponder as they press farmers to cut back their flocks in pursuit of some kind of environmentalist’s upland utopia. (Politically incorrect, I know, but that’s what I think; I’m descended from Westmorland sheep farmers and proud of their centuries on the fells).

However, the Woolfest does not restrict itself to native upland breeds. Here is an attractive Cashmere goat from Cartmel, somewhat of a rarity in the UK which has only a few hundred pedigree Cashmeres.

Cashmere Goat at Cockermouth Woolfest

And no festival of animal fleece and fibre would be complete without some alpacas. Here is a little lovely without its coat; just a cap left.

Alpaca at Cockermouth Woolfest 2012

Coming now to sheep I liked this little one representing the all white Ryeland breed which is believed to have originated in Herefordshire and has a history going back over eight centuries. Doesn’t this one look cuddly, and the breed is said to be very gentle.

Cockermouth Woolfest - Ryeland Sheep

In marked contrast is the much larger black, and in this case multi-horned, Hebridean a hardy breed from the far north.

Cockermouth Woolfest - Hebridean Sheep

Coming nearer home is the Teeswater with its long wool, originating several centuries ago in the uplands of the northeast.

Cockermouth 2012 Woolfest - Teeswater Sheep

If the next photo looks similar this is because the two breeds are related. This is a Wensleydale (yes there’s a Wensleydale sheep as well as a Wensleydale cheese!) and the long-haired breed owes its existence to the 19th century crossing of Teesdale and Leicester.

2012 Cockermouth Woolfest - Wensleydale Sheep

I include this next picture to remind me to say that wool is for salewidely around the show ranging from uncarded fleece to dyed and ready-to-knit yarn.

2012 Cockermouth Woolfest  - Fleeces, skins and more for sale

Woolfest – Materials and Equipment

Many raw materials are available. Here is a stall of dyes.

Cockermouth Woolfest 2012 - materials for craft work

And there’s no shortage of finished products.

Cockermouth Woolfest - finished products

Equipment such as spinning wheels and a wide variety of looms are exhibited, and often demonstrated as here. Thank you ladies for agreeing to pose.

Cockermouth Woolfest -  Spinning

Woolfest 2012 – My Day In Summary

As I said at the beginning I had a fascinating day at the Cockermouth Woolfest, not only taking photographs but learning much, and enjoying conversations with stall holders and farmers with the animals. There is much more than I can show here. I took over 70 photographs in all. Thank you to all the stallholders who gave me permission. In spite of the cautionary note in the brochure no-one refused, and several posed.

In summary, despite having to drive a round trip of almost a hundred miles in appalling rain I have to say it was a day very well spent, and many others thought so too.

Cockermouth Woolfest - Crowds 2012

Join the crowds tomorrow (if you see this in time) or at least note in your diary the dates for next year: Friday/Saturday, 28th/29th June 2013.

Accommodation in Cockermouth area.

And for a bit of variety here’s something that wasn’t wool.

Cockermouth Woolfest - Basket making

Note: I have since added another post with more photographs.

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