I like to spend as much time with the livestock as I can when we are at the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival -- those of you who read this blog regularly know I have a thing about animals that produce fiber, especially goats -- but this year was all about friends and family. I realized on the long drive home that many of our customers are now our friends. They bring their children and grandchildren to meet us, along with stories and photos and projects to share.
My daughter flew in from the West Coast on the red-eye Friday night -- she has business in New York City this week and came a few days early. Pete picked her up at JFK at 7 AM and they came up to the Festival for the day. Pete has never seen our booth here and he was a little surprised by the crowds. We heard that 45,000 people passed through the gates on Saturday, but that could just be rumor. It seemed like 45,000.
A bunch of my pals from the Peconic Ruggers arrived via bus -- they left before dawn to get to Rhinebeck -- thank you Sue, Sally, Phyllis, and Judy. (Sorry I had so little time to talk.) Sylvia from Toronto, who sent us an email the day Obama was first elected, was back after a few years' absence. Elizabeth from Ontario likes to hook leaves -- and actually reads my blog! -- so I need to design a new pattern or two with lots of leaves on them. Frances, who lives in Rhinebeck all year round, stopped by. Last year he bought a rug and realized it had some loose loops, so I met him in the parking lot with my hook and repaired it. Alice came with photographs of her new home, featuring my large mermaid rug which she purchased last year. (She once brought one of Barb's turkeys back for repair after her beloved dog got a hold of it.) Pamela from Boston (via Tennessee -- she has the best accent and the best smile) came both days. She and four friends rent a house in Rhinebeck every year for the Festival and make crafts together in the evenings after spending the day on the fairgrounds. (We had an instant connection when she wandered into our booth a few years ago and I can't let her go home without a big hug.) Diane and her husband came from the Bronx, with stories of their dogs, a greyhound and a coon hound. Then there's Linda, who buys every back issue of Rug Hooking Magazine I can get my hands on. She said she volunteered at the festival this year just so she could have first dibs at the magazine rack. My sister Barb's best friends, Mary Ellen and Kathy, come to Sheep and Wool every year. They make a great road trip out of it, stopping at thrift stores and often having lunch at the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park. I am indebted to them for all their help over the years, but especially for manning the booth Saturday afternoon with Barb so I could leave early to go to a cousin's wedding with Pete and Clara. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I know there's a passel of people I haven't mentioned, but you get the idea. Our customers are special. We may not remember your name, but we remember your face, and the project you needed help with or the question you asked -- and we appreciate each and every one of you.