I went to Rhinebeck (The New York Sheep & Wool Festival) this year with a new friend. She is a new-ish knitter and had been to the festival in Maryland before, but this was her first Rhinebeck. Seeing it through her perspective was a great way of showing me how deeply ingrained this festival is for me now. I counted it up in my head Saturday night, and realized this was my eigth time in attendance. I found that a little hard to believe, but I came back home and backed up the fact with an old blog post.
In Rhinebeck, I know where to go. I know where my favorite vendors are, where the food is (given your particular craving), where things used to be but aren’t anymore. I still mourn the loss of the broom vendor, who no longer comes because he came a weekend too late in that one October when there were five Saturdays instead of four. I marvel at the fact that I can get into a booth that was always so completely packed in the past, and roll my eyes at the hour-long line outside a different booth that I knew about two years ago before it was so popular. (I know, I'm such a hipster.) I can feel the history of the place as I walk around the grounds, and I love it.
I love that they put up a sign in the spot where that coffee booth usually sits, directing us to the new site. It was clearly put there for people like me, although probably ones who are more into their coffee than I am.
I love that the town where we stay has a zombie party every year on the same weekend, so we have to be careful that our car is parked by a certain time because they close the streets. And then all that happens is the townspeople dress up like zombies and have a lot of fun standing around in the street.
This year felt like a change for me, as I had expected to go with someone and ended up finding someone else to go with me instead. The initial shock of this change was a huge disappointment, tempered by the prospect of getting to know another friend better. But as I was walking around the festival, and thinking about all the people with whom I have shared the place, I realized it is not about me and any one person. I always come, and the people who come with me shift as needs dictate.
I had a really lovely time, showing my friend all my favorite places around the festival and the place where we stayed. I discovered new things in the process, because each friendship is different and the focus shifts to different interests when there are two people involved.
I didn’t know as many people as I knew in years past, although I was excited to see the ones I knew. There weren’t any awkward “I read your blog” conversations (I never know what to say) since I haven’t been blogging much. I walked through the Ravelry meetup and didn’t really know anyone, although they’re probably the newest generation of knit-bloggers who know each other. But I did compliment a lady on her lovely Starmore sweater and had a nice conversation.
I’m so glad I went again this year. I loved the combination of tradition and new experiences. I love the bag of yarn I brought home and hope to turn into things that will be worn this year. And I love that when I e-mailed the owner last night to reserve the apartment for next year he replied within a minute and said the place is mine.