Report on the Grasslands Wool Competition, Auction and Wool Display

By Brooke Aitken and Jude Haraldson

We were glad to be back at the Grasslands Sheep Exhibition again this year. Along with a fleece competition, displays and demonstrations were held to promote using Saskatchewan wool. Participants and visitors to the sheep show were informed about the value of wool, its uses and qualities, and how to handle fleeces properly.

Demonstrations had interest from several people curious about how to improve the quality of their fleeces for sale, or how you get from a raw fleece to a finished product. Skirting demonstrations showed participants examples of tag and mud, heavy hay contamination, second cuts, and a weak fleece. 

The organizers of the Biggar Fibre Fair kindly lent their “Advantages of Wool” poster. Demonstrations of carding, spinning, and weaving went on for the whole show. Finished yarns, and knitted, woven, crocheted and felted pieces of fibre art were displayed. Many interesting conversations happened on woolly topics and Arlette Seib’s amazing felted flock stopped many people in their tracks.  

Thirdy-seven fleeces were received from 14 entrants for the 2022 Grasslands Fleece Competition. There were entires in all five classes with the largest showing by far in the Specialty Wool Class. Fleeces were judged by Peggy Gwillim using the Canadian Cooperative Wool Growers judging card. Scribes were Sonja Welford and Johanna Croes. Wool handlers were Johanna Croes, Tosha Sparks, Cathy Merkley, Arlette Seib, and Brooke Aitken.

There was a great selection of fleeces from many breeds, and many of the fleeces were of exceptional quality. The winning fleeces were very clean from vegetable matter, dirt and paint, as well as being consistent in the colour and qualities of the fleece. Many of the high placing fleeces were from flocks that are primarily meat based flocks, giving great examples of how choosing a few of your best fleeces at shearing is a relatively easy way to dip into the wool market.

Class winners and runners up were:

Range Wool

1st place – Wayne Loewen with a Rambouillet fleece

2nd place – Graham Rannie with a Rambouillet fleece

Long Wool

1st place – Sonja Welford with a Cotswold fleece

2nd place – Sonja Welford with a Cotswold fleece

Down Wool

1st place – Graham Rannie with a Border Cheviotfleece

2nd place – Brooke Aitken with a Clun Forest fleece

Specialty Wool

1st place – Rhonda Heinrichs with an Ile de France cross fleece

2nd place – Annette Mignault with an Ile de France cross fleece

Crossbred Wool

1st place – Wes & Lois Mierau with a mixed breed fleece

2nd place – Wanye Loewen with a Rideau Arcott xRambouillet fleece

Grand Champion Sonja Welford with a Cotswold fleece 

Reserve Champion Sonja Welford with a Cotswold fleece

Thirty four of the fleeces were offered for sale through a Facebook auction event following the judging. Bidders came from across the country and many fleeces were shipped to buyers out of province. The top fleece fetched $140 and was sold within Saskatchewan. 

Many thanks to volunteers Arlette Seib, Peggy Gwillim, Cathy Merkley, Sonja Welford, Tosha Sparks, Johanna Croes, Jude Haraldson, Wayne Loewen, Brooke Aitken, Tasha Epp and Diney Bekkaoui. Good times were had by all!

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