Time to get a little bit country at Queens County Farm Museum’s annual Sheep Shearing Festival. The Sheep Shearing Festival is on Saturday, May 11 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. While the farm’s sheep get their much-needed spring “haircuts” for all to see, visitors will enjoy the foot-stomping rhythms of bluegrass duo Coyote & Crow, along with farmer-led tours that detail the growing practices and mission of the farm across its 47-acre site. Visitors may even pick up a few tips for their own home gardens.
The fiber arts will be celebrated at the festival through craft-making activities and demonstrations in needle-felting, yarn dyeing, wool spinning, weaving and patch-work quilting for all ages along throughout the afternoon.
There will be hayrides and tasty local food on the farm all day along with the always popular Adopt-a-Worm composting program at the Con Edison Ecology Booth. The farm’s famed Farm Store will have an abundance of fresh produce including lettuce, spinach, kale, pea shoots, asparagus, cilantro, radishes and swiss chard.
You will need to get to the farm early to scoop up a dozen of its farm eggs. The farm also sells honey from its own hives, naturally hand-dyed yarn from its sheep and dried herbs for tea. Spring plants will be on sale for home gardeners and soon-to-be home gardeners.
New this year, Queens’ own Bridge & Tunnel Brewery will host a Beer Garden with featured brews for Sheep Shearing Festival. Bridge & Tunnel was established in 2012. By 2014, they were named by Business Insider as one of the top 10 breweries in New York state and again in 2015 they were recognized as one of 22 breweries in the United States “that every beer lover should know.”
Bridge & Tunnel has been bringing its spent grains, a brewing byproduct also known as brewer’s mash, to Queens Farm since that first batch in September 2012. Brewer’s mash is rich in protein and fiber, which is a great nutrient offering for the farm’s animals. The farm feeds this treat to its hens, pigs, goats and, of course, its sheep. In the winter months, most animals need an increase in their caloric intake to keep them warm. The brewer’s mash is a great way to supplement calories while also providing the animals with some extra protein and fiber.
A few hundred batches later, Bridge & Tunnel founder Rich Castagna still drives the truckload of spent grains to the farm, often with one of his three daughters in tow. It’s a family business that connects deeply to the history and mission of the Queens County Farm Museum.
“A Sheep Shearing Festival in New York City? Of course,” noted Jennifer Walden Weprin, executive director of the Queens County Farm Museum. “The farming communities and colonial homesteads built this city in to the teaming metropolis that it is today. Come on down to the farm and experience it!”
Sheep shearing and wool spinning demonstrations will run throughout the day, beginning at 12 p.m., in addition to the farmer-led tours, hayrides and craft activities. Admission is $5 for all ages and can be purchased online at queensfarm.org. This is event is rain or shine.
The Queens County Farm Museum is located at 73-50 Little Neck Parkway in Floral Park. There is free event parking and a bicycle rack is available on-site. Strollers, backpacks and bottled water are permitted on the farm grounds. Farm grounds and restrooms are accessible. For more information, visit queensfarm.org.