The New York State Sheep and Wool Festival Draws Younger Fans As It Wends Its Way to the West Coast
By Bill D’Agostino
Last fall, a handful of sheep owners in Brooklyn, New York, called the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) with a request: to attend something called the “New York State Sheep and Wool Festival.”
It was a relatively simple request: to bring 20 or 30 sheep to the largest of the four main farm shows, which takes place in a sprawling park east of New York City each September. The sheep owner had a permit to bring a single sheep, but wanted to bring 20 or 30.
The HSUS had a sheep dog, Rosie, who could handle the sheep, so they agreed to come. Rosie took the sheep, and they wandered through the park, getting some exercise and some rest.
The day began at a nearby farm in a field with hundreds of thousands of sheep, and ended at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival with a grand parade, live entertainment, and lots of sheep.
“We went out into the field, and we were the only ones there,” says Jon Czerniak, the sheep handler who attended. “It was very quiet, and then the sheep began to wake up.”
And so began the Sheep and Wool Festival, which has grown to become one of the biggest events in the country for sheep-dog lovers.
Since its inception nearly 30 years ago, more than 2,600,000 sheep have been brought to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, according to New York State Sheep and Wool Commission. This year, the event is running on Sept. 1 through 12.
The New York Sheep and Wool Festival is one of the highest-profile shows in the country, with an estimated two-thirds of the 10,000-plus sheep-dogs that attend the event bringing their furry friends along.
“This is just the third year that we have brought more sheep than usual to the show,�