I have loved Rhinebeck every year I've gone... until this one. Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the fact that I went by myself and didn't see any of my friends, maybe it was that I only went on Sunday this time, maybe it was the feeling that none of the vendors had The Perfect Item that called out to me from across the fairgrounds, but whatever it was, Rhinebeck was just no fun for me this year.
The weather was crap. It was overcast when I left Vermont, drizzled through most of Massachusetts, flurried a little on the Western side of the Berkshires, and was a light, steady, dreary sprinkle the rest of the day. The only highlight was on my return trip when I crossed Hogback Mountain and found that at the highest elevations it had snowed just enough to stick to the trees but not the ground... a beautiful frosting on autumn foliage. The temperature was in the high 30s, the breeze at the fairgrounds was just strong enough to be annoying, and the amount and type of clothing that had been more than sufficient in years past proved less than adequate today.
Every year I have found at least one person to hang out with, whether it was my partner or an SnB buddy, and even though I experience the festival in a different way when I'm not alone, it's usually been a good thing that I had someone to interact with. This year, when the RV plans fell through and my partner caught a nasty cold, I decided to go by myself. I figured I'd run into a friend or two at the festival, which turned out to be a silly assumption. I saw two faces I recognized, both tangential friends I wasn't comfortable glomming onto for the day, and that was it. I was looking out for a bunch of folks, but didn't find them, and was very sad that I, who usually consider myself something of a loner in a positive way, was... lonely.
I don't know if the vendors didn't bring as much of the good stuff this year, or that my Sunday-only trip meant all the good stuff was already gone, but nothing really jumped out at me this year. This doesn't mean I didn't buy a few things, of course. It is, after all, Rhinebeck, and even with my crappy financial situation I managed to budget a little bit for a fibery splurge that will get me through to next summer.
On the left are two Merino braids from Stony Mountain Fibers, one peach, one violet (my mother loves this blend of colors, saying it reminds her of asters, and that's now what I think of every time I see it). On the right are an evergreen Corriedale hank and an autumn-colored Merino-Tencel mini-hank from Mountain View Farm, whose Corriedale has jumped off the rack at me before. (And speaking of that two-year-old Corriedale, it's still in Jenny's studio waiting to be spun. Hmm.)
I spent only three hours at the festival. I walked the barns twice, got an artichoke without having to spend more than five minutes in line, burned my tongue on some exceptionally tasty hot chocolate, watched the Punkin Chuckers warm up, and couldn't quite find the motivation to stick around any longer, so I was off the grounds and on my way back to Vermont a little after 1pm, which has to be a record.
So has this soured me against Rhinebeck? No, of course not. One mediocre experience is not enough to make me stop attending one of the best fiber events in the Northeast. I will be back next year with the same excitement and anticipation that I've had in years past, and I trust the festival to maintain its reputation.
But it had better be sunny next year. Just sayin'.