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The Catskill Distilling Company will be the site for the first Catskills Fiber Festival on September 15..

Fiber fun for everyone

BETHEL, NY — Summer is over, but fall is gearing up for a strong show of seasonal delights. Apple picking, wine tasting, cider sampling and even early Christmas shopping entice us, and most weekends our area boasts one or more special harvest-season festivals. One such event making its debut this year is the Catskills  Fiber Festival, which will be held at the Catskill Distillery on September 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The event came into being when Michele Armour of Rosehaven Alpacas, along with Annie Cadden of Fiber on Main and Kara McElroy of Buck Brook Alpacas, approached Stacy Cohen of the Dancing Cat Saloon and Catskill Distillery about hosting a fiber festival. Armour says she had attended many such festivals in the past at other locations, and it occurred to her that with the number of fiber producers and craftsman in the Sullivan County area, there should be one here as well. She notes that this fiber festival isn’t just for people interested in fiber. “Other festivals only have fiber; we are going to have so much more.” Visitors can partake in the barbeque luncheon and even sample some maple cotton candy provided by the Diehl farm. Throughout the day there will be music and food available, and Armour says the entire event will be very “family friendly.” 
But there’ll be no shortage of fiber, either. The event will host over 35 vendors selling everything from fiber products like yarn and felt to fiber crafting supplies like looms and spindles. There will be fiber from “sheep, llamas, alpacas, goats and even bunnies,” Armour says. “It’s a perfect time to get fiber,” referring to folks who knit sweaters for the holidays or are simply looking for some other kind of gift they may need to craft prior to winter. Skirted Fleece, a spinning mill from Damascus, PA, will be among the vendors present, as well as Willow Wisp Organic Farm. 
The festival will be held in front of the Catskill Distillery, a micro-distillery that is the brainchild of Cohen’s husband Monte Sachs, situated on the same site as the Dancing Cat Saloon in the hamlet of Bethel. Visitors are welcome to walk in and sample food and beverages throughout the day. On the other side of the Dancing Cat is the Rosehaven Fiber Mill. Visitors to the festival can see live demonstrations at the mill, such as how felt fabric is made from various fibers. Both at the mill and at the festival location in front of the distillery, there will be a number of live demonstrations by fiber craftsmen using looms, spindles, drop spindling and even quilting. Many of the looms provided will be from Stoney Mountain Looms, also known as Stoney Meadows. Performing demonstrations on these looms will be several master weavers and fiber producers.
Also in attendance at the event will be members of the local 4-H chapters; they too will participate in weaving, felting and spinning demonstrations, as well as showing animals used for fiber. Cornell Cooperative extension is also expected to appear, and there will be a demonstration of a textile technique called “Bargello” by Steve Davis. 
Cohen is excited about this collaborative festival. She shares her passion for Sullivan agriculture and how it contributes not only to her business, but also to the fiber producers in the area showcased at the festival. She also notes that this will be the “first time the whole town is connected for a festival.” She explains that until now, there has not been an event that included all of the surrounding businesses. 
The Stray Cat Art Gallery will be open for the festival and feature works by Kim Flynn, Paul Stark and Jerry Cohen, each of whom will be actively participating in the festival; Jerry Cohen, for instance, will be shooting photography during the day. Flynn has created an artistic map that shows visitors to the town how they can visit all of the surrounding locations by following the “paw prints”  on the map to such places as the fiber mill, Bethel Market Café, Dancing Cat Saloon and gallery. Stark will create a wood carving of an alpaca live during the festival, and raffle tickets will be sold for the opportunity to bring the sculpture home with you. Visitors can also see the more than 20 wooden cats that dot the property playing musical instruments, also made by Stark. Also in the gallery, visitors can find an exhibit showcasing the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival, which was held just down the road from this location. 
Stacy Cohen said that the Dancing Cat will be serving food and drinks outside including special drinks celebrating the theme of the festival, ‘Apple Alpaca’ being one of them. There will also be live tours of the distillery open to all ages. “Even though it’s alcohol, the process is educational for all ages,” she says. Cohen went on to share her passion for Sullivan agriculture and how it contributes not only to her business, but also to the fiber producers in the area showcased at the festival. The Catskill Distillery is located at 2037 State Highway 17. For more information visit ny, or follow the excitement on Instagram and Facebook by searching the catskill fiber festival.


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