UW to Lead Programming at Wyoming Sheep and Wool Festival July 12-14

The second annual Wyoming Sheep and Wool Festival will take place Friday, July 12, through July 14 at the Hot Springs County Fairgrounds in Thermopolis. The annual event, organized by the Wyoming Wool Growers Association, celebrates all aspects of the Wyoming sheep industry and includes programming by the University of Wyoming Extension and Wyoming Wool Initiative.

Two people stand on either side of many bins of fleece lined up on a table. Each of the bins has a plaque in front of it.
Micah Most guides education efforts at the Wool Learning Kiosk.

“What I love about the Wyoming Sheep and Wool Festival is how it brings together the ranchers who produce Wyoming’s lamb and wool clip, the fiber artists and hobbyists who craft their works from wool, and folks from the community,” says Micah Most, Johnson County extension educator. “I’m really looking forward to learning more about the history of sheep ranching in Hot Springs County and the ways it is still present and as vibrant as ever today.”

Throughout the weekend, UW Extension sheep specialist Whit Stewart and students in the UW Sheep Program will give interactive demonstrations about the eco-friendly characteristics of different kinds of wool fiber.

During the festival, attendees will also have the opportunity to bid on high-quality fleeces in a silent auction organized by UW Sheep Program. To consign fleeces to the silent auction, register at www.bit.ly/fleece-auction.

Three large piles of fleece on a table. In the background, three people talk.
Attendees chatting about the wool learning kiosk.

The weekend will kick off at 8:30 a.m. on Friday with the Sustainable Sheep Grazing in the Intermountain West workshop funded by the National Grazing Lands Coalition. UW Extension rangeland specialist Derek Scasta will lead a session about carbon credits; other experts will discuss climate smart programs and conserving working and wild lands. “We are working with [UW Extension educator] Barton Stam to organize this workshop and are discussing topics that are extremely timely and relevant for grazers,” says Alison Crane, executive director of the Wyoming Wool Growers Association.  “This workshop also incorporates techniques for range improvements and management.”

The workshop sessions will be followed by a panel discussion and range tour in the afternoon. Registration for these free events is required and can be completed at wyowool.com/grazingworkshop.

Following the morning session of the grazing workshop, the UW Extension Sheep Task Force and Wyoming Wool Initiative will host the “Training the Trainer” wool evaluation workshop from 1-3 p.m. on Friday. Participants will learn how to assess key characteristics of wool quality with opportunities for hands-on practice. Those interested in starting a wool judging team can also receive free practice fleeces after the event. Registration is required and can be completed at www.bit.ly/wool-eval.

A man cuts up meat as people look on. The table is covered in different spice bottles and other cooking implements.
Cody Gifford slicing lamb samples for his LAMB: It’s What’s For Dinner Demonstration.

Saturday will feature the Vendor Fair with demonstrations and workshops in fiber arts, conservation, collaboration, and more. At 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, UW meat scientist Cody Gifford will demonstrate different ways to cook lamb. Participants will receive savory samples and guidance about direct marketing of lamb.

Those interested in crafting with wool are encouraged to attend a fleece-felting workshop led by rancher and entrepreneur B.J. Edwards and sponsored by the Wyoming Wool Initiative. During this free workshop, to be held on Saturday at 9 a.m., participants will learn the basics of wet felting and create their own pieces. Pre-registration is required and can be completed at www.bit.ly/felt-workshop.

The Sheepherders Come Bye Awards Dinner, featuring lamb donated by Jones Sheep Company, will conclude UW-sponsored programming for the weekend. Starting at 6 p.m., the Wyoming Wool Growers Association and Wyoming Wool Initiative will confer awards on donors, producers, and artists. Tickets are required to attend the dinner and can be purchased for $25 at www.bit.ly/bye-tickets. A free live show featuring Kellen Smith and the Nate Champion band will follow the dinner.

Other educational programs sponsored by the Wyoming Wool Growers Association and community partners throughout the weekend will address marketing, agritourism, and conservation opportunities. To view the full 2024 festival program, visit wyomingsheepandwoolfestival.com. Contact Alison Crane at (307) 265-5250 with questions.

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