Sunday, April 11, 2010

#20 - Sheep Festival - Waterloo, IL - April, 10 2010

#20 - Sheep Festival - Waterloo, IL - April, 10 2010

Nothing like seeing mother with daughter. For those of you who are sheep uninformed, an adult female is referred to as an "ewe" and the male is a "ram". That little guy is the lamb, which is simply a sheep under 12 months old. After that the meat is referred to as mutton.

This was a strange festival. We celebrated the sheep, learned more about them, and even clogged. Then, we proceeded to eat their young.

Ahh...The lamb lunch. It was quite possibly the best deal I have come across in all of my culinary travels. For $7 you get a buffet spread of: a lamb bratwurst, lamb burgers, lamb chops, sliced roast lamb, sliced roast lamb with BBQ sauce, and some excellent potato salad and baked beans. The kicker is that it was also all you can eat. Everything was delicious, and the chops stood out for me as they weren't over done as many amateurs are likely to do. It's always a good sign when your table mates each have a different opinion of the best item.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a little intimidated by farm animals. There is something in their eyes that screams, "If I wanted to I would just run right at you and inflict pain". In fact a friend tells me that a cow is capable of jumping over a fence, but simply doesn't know they can. This flock of sheep looked very agile and conniving.

There were also some great demonstrations. On the left is one unhappy sheep getting a haircut. This professional sheared off the wool in one piece in under five minutes. On the right, there was even a border collie display. With just some blows of a whistle, that clever little dog corralled those sheep like water in a funnel.

Last year I upset some of my vegetarian readers by gorging myself over BBQ in Kansas City. This is the vegetarian's revenge. Just look at the little guy, he's adorable and you can almost hear him baaa'ing away. I almost feel bad about eating his friends.

Silly Festival trinket: I picked up this "sheep" for a song at $3. It's a red dyed wool covered wooden sheep with some kind of white rose and wicker hat on its head. You could ask a lot of "why" questions, but it's better to simply take in the simple genius and move along.

Video of the Week: Let me be the first to introduce the Thunder and Lightning Cloggers. Apparently asking their lead dancer about their lack of wooden shoes was a fairly dumb question as we all know that is a Danish thing. These American cloggers were great, I just don't understand any form of line dancing.

For the first official festival of the season, this was a virtual home run. Friendly people, great food, and numerous learning opportunities. In the first picture, an astute reader would notice that the ewe is not very woolly. After speaking to the breeder, he informed me these sheep were "meat sheep". I think that name explains itself. In fact they are a specific breed that doesn't require shearing or any other type of real care called Katahdin. You see, wool isn't as valuable to the small farmer as one would think. Apparently raw dirty wool is only worth about $2 per pound. In order to get more the shepherd would have to clean and refine it, which takes labor. Be that as it may, there is nothing like wool socks in winter. Interestingly the phrase "Black Sheep" is a derogatory term named for the occasional black sheep born into a white wool herd due to a recessive gene. The black wool is vastly less valuable due its inability to be dyed like its white counterparts.

Another beautiful day on the festival circuit. I have learned to be very sceptical of festival events that sound great but end up being disappointing. Case in point: Sheep Olympics. I imagined sheep running, leaping, and maybe even a javelin involved as some 80's rock band music blared in the background. No dice. Instead, it was a bunch of kids leading lambs up and down ramps. Too bad.

I may not be a sheep professional but if you want to learn everything there is to know about sheep and then some, just click here for Sheep 101. Maybe you don't want the interesting tid bits and jargon from sheep 101, then this site is just the facts ma'am, just the facts. For some reason, I immediately thought about Shari Lewis and her creepy puppet "Lambchop" while writing this, here are some terrible knock-knock jokes from the duo.

Loyal readers will also know my love of Wallace and Gromit. Here is a clip of Wallace doing some silly sheep saving, and apparently Shaun has his own show as well. Here is a pretty silly episode of Shaun and his sheep buddies playing soccer with a head of cabbage. Or even better, Shaun the Sheep also has a fairly silly website all to himself.

I'll be back in two shakes of a lamb's tail (yes I said it). Did you know that a lamb can shake its tail up to 300 times per minute? That's pretty quick.


  1. Excellent post, with lots of fun facts. Thanks for sharing your experience. Next time you have to join in the clog performance.

  2. I think this was your best post yet :). If you go to the Microbrew fest at the end of the month I'm pretty sure Scott would join you! And I'm determined to make it to the Pumpkin Festival in Morton, IL this year if you want to get the real "family" experience :)!

  3. Imron - Thanks for the support, and it's probably better for all involved that I don't clog. (At least on film).

    Thanks Shannon. With this being just the beginning of Season 2, I hope I haven't peaked already. I'm not sure about the micro brew this month, but you can pencil in Pumpkin Festival on Sept. 18th.