Rhinebeck sucked.

…or Thoughts from a Rhinebeck Newbie

I wanted to love it the way everyone else does. I wanted to have a great time and make knitterly/bloggerly connections. I was so excited to see the sheep and the yarn and the spinners. I thought it would be great, and there were a few things that were good. But mostly, it was bad.

Good things:
1. Meeting Casey, the Father of Ravelry, at the Ravelry gathering (Mama Rav was too busy). I thanked him for all his hard work. Secretly, I wanted to kiss him. Ravelry is awesome and I love love love it.

2. The sheep auction. Usually when you see a sheep out in the pasture, their wool is all matted and covered in shit and dirt and they are smell-y! Or, they’ve just been shorn and they are stressed and naked and looking as they’ve just been violated. The sheep at the auction had been primped and cleaned and fluffed and perfumed. They were beautiful and it made we want to bring one home and let it sleep in my bed. Except, sheep aren’t cheap!

3. The drive up there. It was beautiful. I love this time of year.

Bad things:
1. The crowds. Were. Enormous. I wanted to show my kids the animals in the 4-H pens, but you had to wade through crowds two deep just to get to the railing. I wanted to admire all the beautiful, locally grown and processed yarns (and maybe even squish a few), but people were packed in, elbow to elbow in every single booth. On one hand, I am thrilled and awed by the sheer number of enthusiasts that exist for things having to do with sheep and wool. On the other hand, the vast crowds were noisy and rude and I find it incredibly difficult to shop for yarn when I am getting dirty looks for having a stroller. Oh yes, there was a definite anti-child vibe in the place. People, it’s a family event, you need to expect there to be children in attendance. I might add that the numerous children there were all exceedingly well behaved, including my own.

2. The food–not that good and very pricey.

3. No yarn deals–no show specials. The few booths I managed to squeeze myself into offered nothing I couldn’t get at my LYS (or online) for the same price (or less). A huge disappointment. I don’t think I’ll go back next year. Or next year. Or ever. I found the whole affair to be a stressful, money-sucking waste of gasoline.

Did you go to Rhinebeck? What, if anything, did you see or buy or learn? Is there any reason I should try and go back? If you loved it, tell me why.

23 thoughts on “Rhinebeck sucked.

  1. So sorry you didn’t have a good time…and here I was envying you because I can’t go to any fiber festivals…

    Glad you enjoyed the drive!


  2. I’m sorry you didn’t have a good time! I’m not a fan of large crowds, either, so I can totally relate. At least you got to meet Casey, thats pretty cool!

  3. I usually go and don’t buy a thing. I like to see what’s out there, talk to the people who make the stuff, and get ideas. This year I bought hand-spun cormo I’ve been looking at for 3 years because you can only buy it at the show. Every year I have a nice chat with Mrs. Golding of Golding Spindles. I’ve gone with and without kids and the only way to get it to be fun for you is to have time to surf solo. DH and kids watched pumpkin chucking while I cruised around. We all enjoyed the frisbee-playing dogs. We bring snacks but we all commented on the fact that our lives do not include a stoller these days. Sorry it was so frustrating for you.

  4. I can see where having a stroller would be hugely difficult – I used to take a side by side double jogging stroller (kids close enough in age to make it worthwhile, but not twins). It was hard to maneuver an ample human with a shoulder bag (me) in some of those booths. I don’t know what time you were there but it seemed to me that things thinned out a bit after about 2:00 pm (I was there Saturday). I nearly tripped more than once over the panels across the front of many of the booths, until I remembererd they were there. most of the people I bumped or needed to scoot in front of were very polite; I guess you met different people than I did. I did enjoy seeing and buying a few things from smaller vendors – probably available on line but since i had never heard of them before, I wouldn’t have looked them up. I did meet a fellow blogger (we had exchanged cell phone numbers ahead of time) which was fun.

    Your experience reminds of the time I took three of my kids (they must have been 5, 3, and a few months) to a ticketed traveling exhibit put on by the Smithsonian. Same deal – people several deep with a fence in front of things – not a prayer for anyone under six feet tall. This really got to me because the idea of ticketing it, one owuld guess, was to spread out the crowds, but it didn’t seem to help. We ended up just leaving and going to the local zoo, which was much more friendly and much less crowded.

    I have read other bloggers who love to take their kids – maybe there is something they know that you and I don’t.

    Meeting Casey must have been fun. Maybe another time – or a smaller festival? I have friends who go to Massachusetts Sheep and Wool or New Hampshire because of the smaller crowds, and more kid friendliness.

  5. Aw, geez, I was there and loved it! I’ve been there before and I actually thought it was less crowded than last year. I would try going as early as you can (you’ll have much better luck if you get there at 9 sharp when the gates open b/c there are fewer people around) or Sunday morning (again, fewer people) and I have 3 kids so believe me I feel your pain but you really need to go with adults. I blogged today about how for me it’s more about the people, seeing old friends, meeting internet friends, getting to meet people like bloggers I know but haven’t met, chatting w/ interesting vendors and fellow fiber freaks, seeing the lovely knitted stuff other people wear, and so on. The food is typical amusement park crap so if you don’t like weird fried food (fried pickle, anyone?) you’ll be happier bringing your own.

  6. I too am sorry you didn’t have a good time…I had been feeling sorry for myself (can’t go to any fiber festivals) until I read your post. As a teenager, I loved crowds, the more the merrier; after commuting on trains and subways to work in Manhattan for 3 years (a loooong time ago) I am forever cured of enjoying a crowd for any reason. At least you found a few things positive about your trip :)

  7. It’s too bad you didn’t enjoy your Rhinebeck experience :( I understand what you mean about the crowd, especially in the early afternoon when it’s so packed… But then again, I live in NYC, so I deal with this every day. What seems special about Rhinebeck to me is that fact that you can find yarn straight from the farm, as opposed to factory-manufactured yarns (Rowan, Cascade 220 etc). I stayed aways from stands that sold “regular” yarn like Trekking XXL. That’s not the point of this festival! Some stands sell rather pricey yarn, but there are good deals to be found too. For ex, A Touch of Twist sells 600 yds of sport weight alpaca for $20… As for the food, you now know to stay away from the food court! There are fantastic food booths scattered throughout, such as the fried artichoke place and any of the apple crisp stands.
    I hope you give it a try next year!

  8. I’m sorry to hear you didn’t have a good time at Rhinebeck. I decided at the last minute not to go this year. It would have been my first trip–and my two-year-old daughter loves seeing animals–but since my budget didn’t allow any shopping, I decided not to torture myself. :)

    What times of day did you go? I wonder if that makes a big difference…

  9. I’m sorry you didn’t have a good time, but I’m not super surprised. I had the same experience at Maryland Sheep & Wool. The best part of the trip was seeing some of the sheep. I wonder if people out there know things that we don’t… but like you said there are few sales or specials on fiber and yarn, as if the stores just packed up and changed venue for the weekend. Happily, most of those farms have their product online. Not the same as touching it in person, I know, cus I’m a petter and a sniffer, but with some creative googling one can skip all the unholy traffic and crowds and still have a nifty sheep stash.

  10. Hey Jen!

    Were you at the festival on Saturday and Sunday or just Saturday?

    Sunday seemed much much quieter and more family oriented. I couldn’t believe how different the 2 days felt.

    of course… it could have just been me. I was really tired on Sunday!

  11. This was my first year, and I had an awesome time. I bought a bunch of things that I can’t get at my LYS, and met a lot of great people. (Luckily, I only came across a few rude ones.)

    Sunday was much less crowded, and calmer (and some vendors started marking down their prices!). If you can make it next year, I would suggest going on Sunday, it’s totally different when we’re not all fighting to get to the yarn.

  12. I can understand you not being happy with the crowds if crowds in general rub you the wrong way, but I found everyone to be supersweet. Accidental bumping created laughter and apologies, not rudeness! As for the deals – I second Veronique. Avoid the usual LYS brands and go for the indy shops. I got amazing alpaca lace for $5/skein, silk and alpaca roving both at close to $1/oz (about 1/3 usual price), and giant skeins of fluffy mohair yarn for $6. And found the perfect autumny-colored roving in sweater quantities at just over $2/oz.

  13. I concur with the others. I know that as much as I love my 3 kids, things are just much easier when they are older and no longer in the stroller.
    We lived in London for a bit, two kids, double stroller, and I HATED the place. I went back last year, just me and DH and I LOVED the place.
    Call me “Grumpy with small kids in a stroller”…

    Maybe try again when they are older. I was there with DD9 (she knits too)and we had so much fun we did not want to leave.


  14. Sorry you didn’t have a good time. It’s funny, everyone I was with thought it was much less crowded than last year. And we all were able to find yarns that we wouldn’t see in our LYS. It seems that everyone has a different experience at rhinebeck. I would wish they could make the stalls a bit bigger or at least not block the aisles with displays.

    There was someone with a double stroller who was trying to get through an aisle in the alpaca building and one the vendors put their things right into the aisle making it hard for the stroller and people to pass at the same time. I felt really bad because people weren’t letting the stroller pass and just pushing through anyway.

  15. Hi there, new reader to your blog. :)

    I’ve gone every year for the past four years and I love it. Love with the passion of a thousand fiery suns. But then again, I enjoy the hunt, and am not bothered at all by large crowds. We have a friend who hates crowds and has to go in a wheelchair so we take her on Sunday when it’s much more quiet.

    The thing about Rhinebeck, or any large fiber festival, is to ask around and “know when/where to go”. Love crowds and want to get the best selection? Go the Saturday. Like it more laid back and don’t plan to shop much? Go Sunday. Extremely popular fair events are something that you have to pick your battles for. I hate carnivals and the like as I view them as a waste of money, so I don’t go to state and county fairs. Throw fiber into the mix and I’m your gal, so it makes a huge difference. I found attendance to be down at least 10-20% this year, usually the grounds are much more crowded. My friend Michelle tries to arrange to be kid free for shows, but if she can’t she goes through the same things you did, it’s part and parcel when you’re surrounded by that many people. I try to be out of my way courteous to people in wheelchairs and strollers because I know how hard it can be for them.

    I’m surprised you didn’t see more farm fresh yarn, I saw it everywhere! My shopping buddies this year didn’t buy a single skein of major label yarn, their entire hauls were indie farm yarn. There is a ton of amazing stuff at the show, whatever your pleasure is, you’ll find it there. There are a ton of handdyed farm fresh mohair vendors, along with alpaca, and of course a plethora of wool. Wool everywhere. I love the smooshy indie wools you can get, especially when they’re blended.

    Lastly, what makes Rhinebeck a great time for many is that you get to see so many of your “friends” online in one place, sometimes it’s the only time each year that you have the chance. If you don’t do the blog thing much, or have out of state knitting friends, then it’s not a big deal for you.

    I hope that you can come again someday and that you’ll enjoy it more. Maybe take a year off and then try again? If it’s something that you’re willing to consider, perhaps you can leave your little one(s) with family or friends and take some you time? I think you’ll enjoy the break and you’ll have more maneuverability. Of course, that may not be something you’re willing to do, and I absolutely understand if that’s the case.

    I look forward to exploring your blog more soon, have a great day!

  16. :(

    I had a crappy time last year because I just seemed to attract the mean/rude folks. This year we had a great time! I only have one baby and he’s small enough to pop into a carrier so we did pretty well as far as moving around. With a stroller you definitely need another adult to drive it while you shop! I only bought things I couldn’t get from my LYS and still overspent…

    Better luck next year?

  17. Hi Jen,

    I too was very sorry to hear that you had such a bad time. I went up with a group of my friends from SnB New Haven on Sunday and had a great time. We heard that the crowds were not as bad on Sunday.
    BTW, great minds think alike. The name of my blog is Wife, “Mom”, Knitter. When I saw that listed on your blog I almost fell off my chair.

  18. Sorry you did not have a great time. I have been going to Rhinebeck for several years, and I love going by myself or with a good friend BUT I think I would hate it with my kids in tow. I take the kids to the smaller festivals (like Cummington in MA) and then leave them home for Rhinebeck so that I can relax AND maneuver more easily! And yes, the food is pricy, so I was glad to not have to purchase snacks for anyone other than me.
    Or maybe festivals just aren’t going to be your thing–and that’s okay!

  19. Personally, I’m glad you won’t be going ever again. It amazes me when parents don’t know in advance that an event like NYS S&W might be too crowded to bring a stroller, and then have the gall to complain that it’s not child friendly…like the world should conform to their family status…ugh.

    I was probably one of those “rude” people that refused to yield right of way because you wanted to get to someplace and I happen to be on your path. Maybe I missed the yield sign that says parents and strollers get to go first.

    You are the exact kind of arrogant parent that drives me nuts…like you have more rights than others because you bred children successfully.

    I know you won’t even try to see if this applies to you, you’ll just dismiss it out of hand, but at least it gave me a chance to vent.

  20. You make your own good or bad time. First of all, there were plenty of activities especially for kids, facepainting, the slide, etc. Second, if you really want to enjoy yourself, leave the kids home! I’m sure you can find other activities as a family to do. I saw more cranky kids at Rhinebeck this year, in strollers and out, who were being dragged hither and yon.

    I’m a mother of two girls. And I firmly believe that there are Mommy activities and kid activities and family activities. My kids were never taken to places where I even thought they would be bored. It’s unfair to the kids. As far as strollers in crowded places, that’s yet another good reason to leave the kids home. Having children does not mean you get special rights. So get over yourself.

  21. Sorry you had a bad time! I noticed a lot of new babies and infants in slings and Bjorns, but I missed a lot of the stroller action. I know the one year I went to Maryland Sheep and Wool, a mom behind me in a booth said out loud that she likes having a stroller because then she can just push it in to people to get them to move. She was serious!

    I know Rhinebeck can be overwhelming the first and even second time. I hope you can give it or another sheep and wool festival another try!

  22. Wow, those two anonymous posts are pretty venomous. I guess that neither of them has “had” to try and “do it” with kids. Some people seem to never have had an experience of everything being more difficult because you are in charge of young dependent beings. Amazing what a little bit of manners and consideration can do for anyone whose life is a little harder than ours. Stepping aside for a stroller or a wheelchair, holding a door. How much does it take to give that little?

    Some make it seem so easy to just leave the kids at home. I guess she has a relative who will take over for her or maybe she is very rich and pays a babysitter. She kinda forgot that it is not that easy for everyone. Isn’t she lucky that she doesn’t even need to consider that?

    As for Rhinebeck, my kids adore it. I am lucky enough to have an unpaid child manager who comes with us and loves it too. I am also lucky that I have fellow fiber friends (with and without kids) who love to come, browse and eat the various sheep foods. But those artichokes are great! I hate the crowds too and can imagine how hard it must have been with a stroller. Too bad people have such bad attitudes.

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