For the past fourteen years, Linda Shane chaired the highly celebrated Fleece Show & Sale at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. This past fall, Linda announced her retirement from this role. Through this dedication we honor Linda and hope to express our appreciation of her.
The Fleece Show & Sale has been one of the key pillars of the Festival from the very beginning – indeed one of the original driving forces for establishing the Festival. Linda steadfastly guided the Fleece Show & Sale in pursuit of the dual goals of providing an accessible sales outlet for producers of quality handspinning fleeces, and offering a consistent source of desirable wool fiber for spinners, felters, and practitioners of wool crafts of all kinds and levels of experience. Here they can find and purchase fleeces that meet their needs and thrill their hearts.
From the beginning, Linda was a great choice for this role. She knows her wool! She is the only certified Level III Wool Classer east of the Mississippi. She and her husband Phil (also a longtime volunteer at the Fleece Show & Sale) have raised Corriedale sheep for years for both fiber and meat production. She has assisted at the Maryland Shearing School for many years – offering her expertise on proper wool handling procedures to ensure a quality wool clip and teaching interested students about wool classing. She has classed wool at the Maryland Wool Pool for years – again, using this as a venue for teaching others as well. She has organized seminars on wool science, handling, and classing with the most respected experts available in this country. She has driven thousands of miles tirelessly and quietly working to connect the dots between producers, shearers, and market opportunities available to them. She has been a behind-the-scenes force for good, not just for the Festival, but for wool producers and buyers in Maryland and surrounding states; many of whom probably don’t know to whom they are indebted.
Over the years, Linda has used the Fleece Show & Sale as a tool for 1) connecting producers to a good market for quality product; 2) as an educational tool and incentive to get producers to optimize the quality of their wool clips by raising their standards for pre-shearing and shearing management, wool handling (skirting, storing, presenting); 3) educating and recruiting knowledgeable volunteers to help connect buyers with the best fleeces to meet their needs; and 4) educating buyers and the general public about the qualities of wool of all types, and what to look for to make a good purchase.
Always a highlight of the Festival, the Fleece Show & Sale under Linda’s tenure has continued to be viewed as THE place to go to find the greatest diversity and selection of quality fleeces, particularly for handspinners. Each of the last four years has seen a new record in the number of fleeces entered and sold, and the quality has just gotten better and better. Linda has seen us through the transition from an all paper, cash or checks only, to a mostly electronic and credit card friendly process, and a move to a larger space in a dedicated building.
Linda has left the Fleece Show & Sale in the hands of dedicated volunteers who are knowledgeable, enthusiastic, hardworking and, above all, grateful for what they have learned from her. From the Maryland Sheep Breeders Association, the Festival Committee, the Fleece Show & Sale volunteers, producers from all over, and all of you who have found the fleeces you were looking for here over the last 14 years, we thank you, Linda!