Grazing Hill reflects on socially distant Fiber Festival

Vendors gathered last weekend under social distancing guidelines in a scaled-back Fiber Festival



Alpacas out in the rain Sept. 28 at Grazing Hills Alpaca Ranch.

SYDNEY BROWN, Evergreen reporter

Fleece artisans and local vendors brought handmade creations to Viola, Idaho, for the second annual Grazing Hills Fiber Festival this past weekend, hosted by the Grazing Hills Alpaca Ranch.

Owner Katie DeWinkle said it was the first large event for Grazing Hill this year. 

“It was kind of like a little family reunion,” DeWinkle said. 

Masks were encouraged but not required, and hand sanitizer stations were available at each vendor. The outdoor event also made attendees feel more comfortable, DeWinkle said, and the majority of attendees complied with the measures.

DeWinkle said more planning efforts went into hosting a fiber festival that could bring artisans together without breaking social distancing measures.

The festival brings hard-working artists and farmers from across the country, DeWinkle said. After consulting the local health departments, she said they made the choice to go on with the festival. 

“We did feel it was the right thing to do,” DeWinkle said. 

About 35 vendors showed up for the Fiber Festival this year, though DeWinkle said some pulled their participation because they did not want to increase the risk of spreading COVID-19. 

Attendees also took part in a “scaled-back” petting zoo, DeWinkle said, and crafters could sell their handmade fleece creations. 

“People put a lot of time and effort into this,” DeWinkle said. 

The event proved to DeWinkle that small outdoor events were possible, and people could still enjoy themselves safely. 

“It kind of restored our faith in humanity,” DeWinkle said.