Springtime is a busy time of year for everyone – gardeners start tending their flowers, spring cleaning begins in earnest, and everyone feels recharged with the promise of longer, and warmer, days. For the Huntington Historical Society, this time of renewed activity heralds the return of its fun, family-oriented events which highlight the lifestyles, arts, crafts and traditions of historic Huntington. And for nearly 30 years, the Society has kicked off the spring season with its popular “Sheep to Shawl” Festival on the grounds of the Dr. Daniel W. Kissam House Museum property at 434 Park Avenue in Huntington.
Featuring Family-Fun Activities including:
Old Fashioned Games
Baking in the Beehive Oven
Spinning Wool Demonstration
Embroidery, Crocheting and Weaving Demonstrations
Old Fashioned Wooden Toy Demonstration
Maypole Dance Celebration
Traditional Live Music
Treats from Bon Bons Chocolatier and Reinwald’s Bakery
Kissam House Museum Tours
Tours & Costume exhibits in the Kissam House
Bargains in the Barn and at the 99 cent table
Antiques & Collectibles for sale in The Museum Shop
See more information about past and upcoming Sheep To Shawl Events at the bottom of this page
Held in May, from 12 to 4 pm. It is free to the public and a great way to introduce spring, seasonal living, clothing production and traditional crafts to both children and adults. The Sheep to Shawl Festival is a fun and fascinating look at colonial life – featuring real sheep shearing. Demonstrators in colonial costume share their knowledge and assist visitors in carding, spinning, knitting and weaving – the processes from “sheep to shawl”.
Kids love the traditional games, face painting, story telling, old fashioned crafts
The main highlights of the festival are the live sheep shearing demonstrations. For early Americans, shearing a sheep was hard work. Sheep could weigh anywhere from 150 to 300 pounds and a colonist who was shearing the sheep would have to wrestle the sheep to the ground and then hold it still while he cut off the fleece with a hand shearer, a simple tool that resembled a modern grass clipper. The fleece needed to be cut close to the skin and the shearer had to work downward and outward so he could see where he was cutting next, thus ensuring that the fibers would be long for spinning into wool. This process is extremely interesting to watch, and onlookers at the Festival come away with a renewed appreciation for the early colonists and their everyday chores and activities.
Many craft guilds on Long Island have representatives demonstrating their skills and assisting visitors in trying their hand at spinning, quilt making, embroidery, lace making, basket weaving, knitting and crocheting.
Throughout the “Sheep to Shawl” event, docents will share the history of the 1795 Dr. Daniel W. Kissam House and Costumes from the Society’s extensive collection will be on display in room settings. Adding to the festivities is traditional music, refreshments and souvenirs. Not to be missed is the newly-renovated Museum Shop with its many treasures, collectibles and antiques.
Also the Huntington Arsenal, a revolutionary War-era building across the street form the Kissam property, will be open to tour. The Arsenal is home to the Huntington Militia and features many historic artifacts.