April 29 @ 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
The Connecticut Sheep, Wool & Fiber Festival celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2009 and we are growing. The festival started in 1909 by the CT Sheep Breeders Association as a program “to promote the keeping of sheep in Connecticut” by visiting farms and eventually to a one day event held at UCONN. It has evolved and expanded into a premier sheep and fiber festival. This event is family friendly agricultural and learning experience for the general public as well as shepherds and fiber enthusiasts.
Winter is coming in Connecticut. While some CT Grown farmers are continuing their growing seasons and attending winter farmers’ markets, others have closed their farm stands until next year and are focusing on other essential work like ordering seeds and maintaining machinery.
But your support for CT Grown products doesn’t have to stop at what’s in the refrigerator. The CT Grown product extends to all farm products originating in Connecticut, including several options that can help keep you warm and cozy on a dark and chilly evening.
Remember when your father told you to leave the thermostat alone and put a sweater on if you were cold? Well, why not join the growing number of knitters and turn to CT Grown producers for your next hat, blanket, or new pair of mittens or socks?
Many animals have natural fibers—such as hair or fur—which can be used to manufacture products. Wool is perhaps the best-known example, with more than 400 farms in Connecticut caring for a flock of over 6,000 sheep and lambs. Other animals raised in Connecticut for their fiber include alpacas, llamas, and Angora goats.
Collecting the fiber is just the first step toward a finished product. It must then be converted to yarn through a process of cleaning, carding, spinning, and dying.
Don’t have the time to make a new winter wardrobe? Stop by a fiber producer to see what they have in their farm store. Many go the extra mile by providing completed products like blankets, hats, scarves, sweaters, and mittens.
Relaxing in front of a roaring fire is one of those quintessential New England experiences, but it’s become less common as homeowners rely more on fuels like heating oil and natural gas to stay warm. Yet many properties in our region continue to employ wood as a secondary heating source — especially when fuel costs go up. Firewood and wood pellets are among the items that are produced locally, so you can make your home more inviting using a local fuel source.
Under an agreement with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, forest products can be labeled as CT Grown if the timber was grown, harvested, and the item was processed in CT. You can look for the CT Grown label for materials like fencing and flooring when undertaking your next home improvement project, or find unique gifts like furniture, cutting boards, and carved bowls.
Tobacco and spirits
For some folks, the best way to make a winter evening more enjoyable is to relax with a fine cigar and a glass of whiskey — both of which can be found locally.
Tobacco has been under cultivation in Connecticut since pre-colonial times, and it was once a major cash crop of the Connecticut River Valley. While the industry is much smaller than it used to be, about 2,000 acres are still dedicated to growing and curing shade tobacco. This tobacco is then destined for the outer layers of premium cigars, which can be found at local suppliers.
Two types of tobacco grow in Connecticut, and each variety is valued for its rich flavor profile. Connecticut shade tobacco offers a light, sweet smoke with notes like coffee, vanilla, and cream. The dark, thick leaves of broadleaf tobacco deliver bolder flavors like earthy minerals, spice, or chocolate.
Spirits have been on the rise in Connecticut in recent years, with a growing number of distillers taking on the meticulous task of producing bourbons, whiskeys, liqueurs, and more. As an added bonus, these distilleries often use local CT Grown products like apples and maple syrup to give their product a distinct flavor.
Winter brings chapped lips and cracked skin. Fight back against the season’s dry air with the same ally that helps CT Grown farmers during the growing season: bees!
While honey is the most common bee product produced by Connecticut apiaries, many also offer personal care products made from beeswax. This material, used to construct honeycombs and seal in honey, also offers a natural way for the skin to retain moisture.
For this reason, beeswax finds its way into a variety of personal care products. Look for the material in lip balms, body scrubs, moisturizers, and more.