Fibre, family, fun

The social, financial and environmental bristles of the Manitoba Fibre Festival

Knitters, spinners and weavers unite to celebrate the Manitoba Fibre Festival from Sept. 13 to 14 at the Red River Exhibition Park.

Festival co-ordinator Margaret Brook says “this is a very educational event, showcasing various skills, and (it) presents an opportunity for groups (and individual artists) to come together to share their craft.”

Described as a family-friendly event, the two-day festival offers a variety of activities, including craft demonstrations, vendor markets, workshops and shearing demonstrations.

“We started in a small community club in 2013, and with growing interest and attendance, we had to move to the (Red River) Exhibition Park to accommodate everyone,” Brook says. “We recognized the amount of interest people have in this field and the potential for connections to be made in the community.”

This festival’s uniqueness spawns not only from the specific craft of fibres, but also the community it brings together.

“One of our focuses is to make more connections between rural and urban Manitoba,” Brook says. “Through this festival, there have been more connections between farmers and sellers, and now you can see local yarn and wool being sold in Manitoban shops.

“One of the things we are really proud of is how the festival brings together local artists to work on collaborative projects, as dyeing and knitting artists would create beautiful, hand-made products.”

Ash Alberg, a local fibre artist and participant in the festival, says the event has many unique facets.

“The festival specializes in not only fibre textiles, but also local handmade products,” Alberg says. “This event is friendly for both beginners and experienced fibre enthusiasts, and there is something for everyone.

“This festival is important, as it supports many local artists and farmers, and some of us have our best sales at this festival. The local economy is something that everyone should support, for environmental, social and work-condition reasons.”

The Manitoba Fibre Festival also co-operates with Fibre Shed, a Canada-wide textile movement that, according to their website, “support(s) and connect(s) our community of producers, (c)hanging the fundamental way that textiles are produced to reflect biocentric values.”

“Through Fibre Shed and the festival, we bring the focus back on what we can produce locally, supporting local markets and jobs,” Alberg says.

Not only does the Manitoba Fibre Festival have positive social and business impacts, but it also affects the environment as well.

“If we continue to support each other locally, we will ultimately shrink our carbon footprint,” Albert says. “By showing the public where their products come from, we can begin to ask ethical questions of local farming practices, and then become comfortable to ask the same questions to bigger, more global producers and hold everyone accountable.”

The Manitoba Fibre Festival takes place at Red River Exhibition Park (3977 Portage Ave.) on Sept. 13 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and on Sept. 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5, which includes both days, and there is free parking. Register for workshops at
manitobafibrefestival.com.

Published in Volume 74, Number 1 of The Uniter (September 5, 2019)

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