Ashbourne Sheep Fair

Ashbourne Sheep Fair today was a real celebration of all things sheep. There was a great turn out of folk to watch the hand shearing demonstrations, wool yarn spinning and the mock auction, which all gave the public an insight into the history and tradition of sheep farming in the Derbyshire Peak District.

shearing sheep by hand      spinning yarn

It was fabulous to see 17 breeds of sheep on display so that you could get up really close and compare the differences. The length and quality of wool varies tremendously, some sheep produce better meat and watch out as some breeds have the most amazing impressive horns!

whiteface woodland sheep
Whitefaced Woodland Sheep

There were lots of fun family activities from, guess the weight of the sheep, a sheep bran tub with a difference, to live music.

sheep fair crafts The market stalls were packed with #LoveLocal sheep related goodies including, Snelston Tweed fabrics and clothing, the The Woolroom duvets, mattresses and pillows, Drynose Dog Designs with wonderful quirky glass ware and gifts and David’s favourites – chocolate sheep-shaped lollies and cider from Kniveton Cider Company pressed from local apples.

If you had a question there were plenty of expert farmers on hand to explain the different attributes of the various breeds and geographically where they are best suited to graze.

ask a farmer      sheep farmer  It was wonderful to see some more local rare breeds including the Whiteface Woodland and the Derbyshire Gritstone, one of the oldest breeds, which as the name suggests, is native to the North of the Peak District, where it can thrive on the moorlands.

Derbyshire Grtistone sheep
Derbyshire Gritstone Sheep

Valais Blacknose Sheep For wool quality and sheer cute “ahh” factor the Valais Blacknose stole the show with their fluffy curly fleeces. As you can tell by their little bells round their necks they are not native to Derbyshire, but come from Switzerland. This means that they are adapted to hill pastures, and are thus becoming more popular in the UK.

You can find out more about the various sheep breeds on the Ashbourne Sheep Fair website.

The Sheep Fair took place on the main market square where weekly markets have been held since the first charter in 1257! It was a great success and is sure to take place again next year so why not join in the fun?

In the meantime the good news is that the Ashbourne Artisan Market is being launched on 10th September and will take place on the second Sunday of every month. I can’t wait to see what #LoveLocal delights will be on sale!

Felicity