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Shaggy Sheep to be Herded, Sheared at Upcoming Philipsburg Manor Spring Festival

April 18, 2007

Resident sheep Esther and Job of Philipsburg Manor

Sheep anxious to lose their winter coats will be shorn by hand in the style of the 18th century at Philipsburg Manor’s Sheep-to-Shawl festival, taking place Saturday and Sunday, April 21-22, 2007 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Visitors can see the entire process of making woolen cloth and participate in many stages of the process once the sheep are sheared: picking and carding the wool, spinning and dyeing the yarn, and weaving it into cloth. Interpreters, wearing costume of the 18th century, also demonstrate the labor-intensive process of making linen from the flax plant.

Sheep-to-Shawl, which heralds the arrival of spring in earnest, will be augmented this year with special tours of the site’s Manor House, which is reopened after a year’s worth of renovations—the first in more than 40 years. The circa 1680 building was given an exterior and interior overhaul. The $500,000 renovations not only included routine maintenance—replacing systems that have a life span such as the roof and shutters—but changes that reflect new scholarship and new discoveries about how residents of the Manor lived and worked there.

While strolling through the site, which includes a working water-powered gristmill and a new world Dutch Barn, visitors can watch as Gene Sheninger showcases his Scottish border collies and their instinctive and impressive ability to herd sheep. Visitors will also see more than a dozen newborn baby lambs, born this spring at Philipsburg Manor, frolicking about the grounds as they explore this 18th-century working farm. Two year-old calves, Josh and Jake, are in training to become working oxen and will also be part of the day’s events.

Philipsburg Manor’s farmers will be shearing the sheep in the barnyard by hand, while costumed interpreters continuously demonstrate wool dyeing, spinning, and weaving, and lead special hands-on activities for children. Visitors can enjoy picnic food and refreshments.

Storyteller Jonathan Kruk, who gives more than 300 performances and workshops on Hudson Valley lore each year, will be on hand to share his tales.

Sheep-to-Shawl is held rain or shine. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $6 for children ages 5-17. Members of Historic Hudson Valley and children under 5 attend for free. Philipsburg Manor is at 381 North Broadway (Route 9) in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., two miles north of the Tappan Zee Bridge. For more information, please call 914-631-3992, or visit

Historic Hudson Valley is a network of six historic sites in Sleepy Hollow Country and the Great Estates region; Washington Irving’s Sunnyside; Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate, a historic site of the National Trust; Philipsburg Manor; the Union Church of Pocantico Hills; Van Cortlandt Manor; and Montgomery Place Historic Estate.


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