Crazy Mountain Fiber Fest

Big Timber celebrates rich history of wool production at fiber festival May 19

Art Beat
Crazy Mountain Fiber Fest
Wool dries after the Dying for Beginners class.

The second annual Crazy Mountain Fiber Fest brings spinners, weavers and other fiber enthusiasts to Big Timber May 19 for an exciting array of offerings. Held from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. at the Big Timber Civic Center, the festival provides a fun educational way for visitors to learn about the fiber industry and arts, sheep culture, the important role of agriculture and how animals contribute to rural economies.

Vendors showcase an array of unique wares, including handcrafted clothing, quilts, blankets and rugs, plus looms, spinning wheels and food. Workshops cover such time-honored skills as spinning, weaving, felting, knitting, dying and more.

A sheep-shearing demonstration offers a firsthand look at how deftly shearers disrobe their charges. The festival also features a tour of Big Timber’s historic Wool House, which has provided a place for woolgrowers to store and package wool for shipment for more than a century. It was once was the biggest wool-shipping site in the world.

The festival was started by a group of fiber-arts-loving ladies who realized Sweet Grass County – with its rich history of wool production – was the perfect place to host such an event.

During the late 1800s, Big Timber was one of the largest exporters of wool, shipping out more than 2 million pounds in 1886 alone. Thousands of sheep could be found dotting the hills and grazing meadows from the Boulder River Valley to the foothills of the Crazy Mountains.

With the abundance of sheep grew the art of working with their fiber. Carding the wool, spinning the fibers, and knitting or weaving the spun wool were part of everyday living.

Sheep ranchers spurred Sweet Grass County’s growth, and their impact is still reflected shown in the name of the Sweet Grass High School mascot – the Sheep Herders.

For more information, call 406-932-5131 or head to bigtimber.com.