While the flash and excitement of the midway, the carnival games, and the demolition derby are entertaining, the celebration of our area’s rich agricultural heritage is the heart and soul of the Kingston Fall Fair, which is put on annually by the Kingston and District Agricultural Society.
Geraldine Heffernan is participating in the Fall Fair for the first time this year, showcasing her expertise as a sheep-shearer through live demonstrations, but she is by no means a rookie when it comes to her craft. “I’ve been shearing sheep since I was a child in Scotland,” says Heffernan, “and I go a little slower for demonstrations like the ones here at the Fair so that people can see how it’s done, but when I’m at my own farm with my usualequipment, it’s like a minute and a half to do a sheep from start to finish.”
“She can shear 200 sheep in one day,” laughs her daughter. Neither of them were sure what her current record is, but they agreed it’s over 200.
Heffernan has done shearing demonstrations at other agricultural fairs and festivals, and enjoys the interaction with people who for the most part have never seen the process. And nothing goes to waste – the wool that is sheared at the Fall Fair will eventually end up transformed into a commercial product. “On our farm, the wool we shear gets sent overseas for processing, and then we re-import the final product, as yarn or felt or something else,” Heffernan explains. “The wool from these sheep will mostly be going in for carpets and felt.”
“These sheep are about 6 or 7 years old,” Heffernan notes, “so they are used to the process of being sheared and are quite calm through the whole thing.”
The sheep that Heffernan is shearing at the Kingston Fall Fair are local sheep, owned by farmer Jim Bennett. If you haven’t yet had a chance to see Heffernan deftly buzzing the fleece off of these mild-mannered, four-legged Kingstonians, there are three more demonstrations tomorrow, Sunday, September 16th, taking place just outside Ness Barn.