- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Apr. 2—A special Saturday market at the Frederick Fairgrounds will give visitors an opportunity to support local shepherds and learn about the variety of products they have to offer.
Organized by Polly Matzinger and Patty Sanville, vice president and president of the Frederick County Sheep Breeders Association, the one-day Shepherd's Farm Market will have 28 farms represented and a variety of items available, including fiber art, raw fleeces, pelts and yarn.
"You have to be a shepherd to be selling here," said Matzinger. "Most farmers markets don't sell fiber, so yarn and fleeces and sheep skins and also most farmers markets don't sell crafts and toys that have been made with fiber ... they're mostly food.
"So this is not just food," she added. "It's all kinds of crafts and art and clothing that people have knitted or felted. It's a broader array of products and a narrower array ... of salespeople."
The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. next to building 9, the Null building, at the fairgrounds. Both vendors and visitors are asked to follow COVID-19 guidelines, including wearing a mask, and hand sanitizer stations will be available.
Other products include knitted and felted items, soaps, lotions, cheese and local beer. There will also be baked goods, vegetable seedlings and lamb.
Vendors include Frederick County Sheep Breeders Association members as well as shepherds with the Maryland Sheep Breeders Association.
"This year's been terrible because all the fiber festivals ... have been shut down but farm markets have not been shut down," said Matzinger. "A farm market isn't just fiber, it's a market. And so we thought we'd try it."
There will also be special designations for vendors who have met certain qualifications, including living within 100 miles of Frederick, being a member of the Frederick Sheep Breeders and following the bylaws, having at least 50 percent of ingredients in a product be something that the shepherd has raised, created or foraged, and following the five freedoms of animal welfare.
According to an article published by the Michigan State University Extension, the five freedoms are: freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury or disease, freedom to express normal behavior and freedom from fear and distress.
"Not everybody that's vending here qualifies for that [tag] but there are some that do and they will have 'Frederick Local' signage, logos and tags," Matzinger said, adding that, as far as they know, this is not something other groups have done.
For example, if a shepherd dyes their wool, they could get the dye from elsewhere but need to have grown their own wool.
"It's important to protect our name but it's also something that the public is looking for right now," Sanville said.
As for what people take away from the event, Sanville said she hopes people walk away with a better understanding of what a shepherd is, more than someone who surveys and counts their flock.
"We are doing all these other amazing things at the same time," she said.
Follow Hannah Himes on Twitter: @hannah_himes