Saturday at Rhinebeck means lines and crowds and waiting for almost everything including the ladies room. Being a man at Rhinebeck has its advantages. Getting in and out of the restroom is the first, and getting a lot of attention from yarn-crazed women is another. My husband is a real trooper. He comes along with me to these fiber gatherings and doesn’t complain. He doesn’t always tag along with me, but that’s ok. There are some more manly things to do, like wine-tasting and watching the dog herding demonstrations. He comes home with some bottles of chile sauce and can eat whatever he wants.
This was my first year at Rhinebeck that I didn’t have to take vacation time or worry about when to leave or when to return. I was free to explore and relax and even dawdle. I was determined to let go of negative emotions like guilt and anxiety and impatience. In years past I was one of the first ten people in line at the gate. Honestly, I was in the first ten, and that’s out of the tens of thousands who attend, that’s how motivated I was get there early and get in quickly before anyone else. I would get caught up in the drama of the gate opening and run not walk to one of favorite vendors hoping to get there before anyone else. Since my retirement I have worked to eliminate that attribute from my repertoire: competitiveness. Every competitive bone was squeezed out of me during my last years at work. Why bother getting there ahead of the next guy? It didn’t make me any happier or more content.
This year would be different. For one thing I decided to come both days the event was open, Saturday and Sunday. I ended up having the best time ever and was also the most relaxed. I didn’t stand in any long lines or feel disappointed if I missed out on something. I also realized that two days is not enough to truly experience Rhinebeck. While I did a lot, I did not attend any lectures, see any cooking demonstrations, watch the dog herding or the llamas on parade, or do more than glance at the sheep and camelids in their pens.
What’s all the hype about?
There is a certain percentage of the crowd that runs into the fairground to get into the line for one of the handful of vendors who attract the most attention. What for you ask? It’s a matter of supply and demand. These vendors come with a limited amount of some item that you just have to have, they often advertise this scarcity, and it’s worth it to some people to stand in a line for an hour or more to get one. Two years ago my husband stood in line for me at Miss Babs for over an hour for one skein of yarn I had to have. Now I can’t remember why it was so important to me, more important than something else I could have done with that time or with my husband. At the end he said to me “why don’t you buy it online”? Finally, in year four, my answer to that is, of course you’re right, that’s exactly what I should do.
It was unburdening to let go of the frenzy and enjoy what Rhinebeck had to offer. I did not get one of the special Rhinebeck mugs from Jennie the Potter or a skein of yarn in the Rhinebeck color from Miss Babs. And it was all good. Liberating, in fact.
Eating at Rhinebeck
Then there are the food lines. The yearned for food item at Rhinebeck is Artichoke French. This is the ultimate of yumminess. This delicacy consists of coated and fried artichoke hearts with grated parmesan cheese and garlic. You can also get it with greens and beans. Yu-um-ie. Seriously, I had no idea it could be so good. I couldn’t get near the tasty delight this year, or the falafel line, our go to favorite for lunch. We committed a fatal error: we waited until 11:30 to head for the food stalls. We had to settle for a burrito bowl. Not exactly Chipotle, but it was real food and it wasn’t deep fried and no line and they gave me extra veggies since I don’t eat meat. No worries. We consoled ourselves later with the apple cider donuts.
One line I did stand in was the line to get a copy of Clara Parkes’ new book Knitlandia. It hadn’t been released yet so she was offering pre-release copies to the first hundred people. I first met Clara at Maryland Sheep and Wool a few years ago. I had purchased her latest book and she signed it for me. She told me about how she had changed her direction in life, going into writing about knitting, starting the Knitter’s Review http://www.knittersreview.com, baking and following her passion. I was inspired by her story but at the time was not in a position to give up my day job. At our Rhinebeck meeting I repeated what she had said to me that other day and told her that it had had an impact on me. Now I was in a position to follow my dreams.
Standing in line can be more interesting than what you’re waiting for
While standing in line you invariably meet interesting people and find ways to pass the time. You can almost forget that you’re standing in a tedious line as you’re chatting with new friends. I noticed these ladies while waiting to meet Clara Parkes. They told me that they were three friends who had met up at Rhinebeck and by coincidence had all knit the same hat to wear at the festival. No joke, they didn’t plan this. Here they are sporting their sheepy head coverings.
Here is a picture of what the line at Aba’s Falafel looked like before the lunch crush. What a difference!
We ended up buying six apple cider donuts. We each ate one for three days in a row, and they were still fresh even on day three. There is nothing like an apple cider donut on a cold fall day. That and cup of hot chocolate and life is complete. And no guilt.