Opinion - Firesheep

The 15th annual Iowa Sheep and Wool festival will begin Friday and run through Sunday at the Hansen Agricultural Center. The event will cost $5 for adults, and children under eight will have free admission.

The three-day festival will have various events ranging from a silent auction to a Hall of Breeds demonstrating the various species of sheep. The festival will also include classes about arts and crafts involving fleece. Prices range from $55 - $125, and details about registration can be found on their website.

Sarah Humke, an organizer and committee chair for the Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival, said this event is created to help local breeders with their business and help educate the public about the sheep industry.

“There are a lot of people in Iowa that produce sheep that are primarily for meat production,” Humke said. “But, there are also a few of us that breed sheep that are primarily for wool production. ”

The Iowa Sheep and Wool festival is primarily for those around the Midwest who breed sheep and serves to help people learn how to use fleece.

The event will also include a lecture-type workshop, led by Letty Klein, an author and North American Shetland Sheepbreeders Association judge,  who will explain the quality of fleece and what traits to look for. Klein will also judge the contest following the workshop.

The festival will also include events ranging from indigo wool dyeing to a sheep shearing demonstration. Humke said Katie Buerger will be coming from Texas to show how to shear sheep correctly since the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has released statements claiming that this action is cruel to sheep. 

According to a North Dakota State University publication written by Reid Redden, extension sheep specialist, professionals are trained to shear sheep with care and a specific pattern in order to protect the animals.

"What we want to do is show people is that shearing does not hurt the sheep, and they [the audience] can see it for themselves," Humke said. "... You get to see shearer and often the shearer will answer questions as they're shearing and doing the demonstrations, and they can explain things to people one on one." 

The shearing demonstration will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday. 

The festival will also include food from local breeders and a silent auction. The first event will start at 9 a.m. Friday, and a full schedule of the event can be found on the official website.

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