Sheep-to-Shawl Festival at Philipsburg Manor


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  • Photos, Bryan Haeffele





From fiber to fashion, Philipsburg Manor’s Sheep-to-Shawl festival celebrates all things wooly sheep on Saturday and Sunday, April 12 to 13, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This classic spring event features several new elements this year including Wearable Wealth: The Value of Cloth and Clothing in the 18th Century. Through activities and hands-on displays in the site’s manor house, this interactive exhibit will help visitors understand just how precious fabric goods were for colonial Americans. In fact, colonists were the ultimate recyclers. Textiles of all kinds were expensive treasures that were used, re-used, and re-purposed again.

Other new elements include a photo op for kids, who can try on reproduction 18th-century clothing. A fashion show will take place featuring 18th-century outfits — both high-style and working-class — complete with critiques from a tough judge, HHV’s own expert costume designer.

Food trucks from Rockland Roots (farm-to-table fare) and Rachel's Gourmet (comfort food with a twist) will serve hungry visitors. The Blue Pig of Croton dishes up locally sourced homemade ice cream.

Outside on the grounds, agile Scottish border collies will demonstrate not only their sheep herding savvy, but their ability to corral ducks. And of course, sheep ready to lose their winter coats will be shorn by hand just like they were in the 18th century while costumed interpreters demonstrate wool dyeing, spinning, and weaving, and lead special hands-on activities for children.

Sheep-to-Shawl visitors can see the entire process of making woolen cloth and participate in many stages of the process: picking and carding the wool, spinning and dyeing the yarn, and weaving it into cloth. Interpreters, wearing costume of the 18th century, also demonstrate the labor-intensive process of making linen from the flax plant. Storyteller Jonathan Kruk will be on hand to share lively tales.

In 1750, Philipsburg Manor, which includes a working water-powered gristmill and new world Dutch barn, was home to 23 enslaved individuals known to have lived and labored there. It is the country’s only living history museum that focuses on the history of northern slavery.

Sheep-to-Shawl is rain or shine and kicks off the spring season for Historic Hudson Valley’s network of sites. Philipsburg Manor, Washington Irving’s Sunnyside, Montgomery Place, and Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate will open to the public for general tours beginning Saturday, May 3. Union Church of Pocantico Hills opens Wednesday, April 2, and Van Cortlandt Manor on Saturday, July 5.

Information on available tours, which vary by site, can be found at www.hudsonvalley.org.

Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, $8 for children ages 3 to 17. Members of Historic Hudson Valley and children under 3 attend for free. Tickets can be purchased online at www.hudsonvalley.org. Philipsburg Manor, owned and operated by Historic Hudson Valley, is at 381 North Broadway (Route 9) in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., two miles north of the Tappan Zee Bridge. For more information contact 914-631-8200, www.hudsonvalley.org or find Historic Hudson Valley on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest (username: HHValley) and YouTube (username: InTheValley1).

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