Vendors sell their fiber-made products at the Fireweed Fiberfest on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Vendors sell their fiber-made products at the Fireweed Fiberfest on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Fireweed FiberFest returns to Soldotna

‘It’s about the love of creating something beautiful with your hands and learning from each other’

The annual Fireweed FiberFest returns to the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex this weekend.

Hosted by the Fireweed Fiber Guild nonprofit, FiberFest brings together Alaska’s best and most fervent fiberwork artists and spinners for an admission-free look at all varieties of animal fiber.

According to FiberFest chairman and Fireweed Fiber Guild member Nancy Field, the show has a multipronged approach to celebrating natural fibers and their uses.

“One, it’s educating the general public on Alaska agriculture,” Field said. “It’s telling people about farms that aren’t really in the public eye. They’re off the beaten trail. There are a variety of farms from across the state that will be coming. And they bring their natural product here — whether it’s fleece, wood or bone products. These are natural fibers that can be made and utilized.”

The list of different fiber material is long, but includes sheep, alpaca, llama, rabbit, musk ox, goat and even dog.

“I once used fiber from a Shih Tzu,” Field said. “You can spin anything. It’s fun.”

The event was previously held in Ninilchik and the Sterling Community Center for a few years before making its debut at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex last year to rave reviews. The spacious interior of the building allows plenty of room for the 13 vendor booths that will be on display Saturday and Sunday.

“It was very accommodating,” Field said.

For Field, the passion of fiber crafts is something that not only is easily shared with the community, but also goes back generations as a shared tradition. The purpose of FiberFest is to nurture that tradition.

“It’s just about the love of creating something beautiful with your hands and learning from each other,” Field said. “The ladies (in the guild) are very nurturing and very supportive in different ways. We learn a lot from each other.”

Field said the importance of having a strong tradition in the fiber arts goes back to Fireweed Fiber Guild’s purpose of helping out the communities of Kenai and Soldotna by donating time and energy to the hospital, Kenai senior center and the local 4-H club.

“Our club does more than have festivals and spin,” she said. “We do things in the community like knit hats and donate them to the hospital. We knit baby hats and pocket prayer shawls and donate those.”

According to the event website, many of the listed booths will feature demonstrations and products for sale, and food vendors will be available. Field said there will be classes for adults and free children’s activities, a fiber animal exhibit and a sheep shearing demo Sunday at 2 p.m. Live animals from Lancashire farm in Soldotna and Blue Moon farm in Kasilof will be in the sports complex area.

Field added that a raffle to win some handmade fiber products will be hosted throughout the weekend.

The show is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

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