…how it all began
At the ACR's 2006 Annual Membership Meeting, a few members suggested we apply for a booth space at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. The membership's response to the idea was so positive that we immediately voted to sponsor the effort. While we waited to hear if our application was accepted, we decided on the structure of this new venture.
Our booth would follow a cooperative model; it would be run by members who could come to the Festival but would be open to all members who wanted to sell their Coopworth related products. The participating members would share the fees associated with running the booth and after those were paid, the remaining proceeds from sales would be distributed to each participant. ACR would not benefit monetarily from the members' sales. It would provide educational and promotional materials to be distributed to the public.
In May 2007, our first small group of cooperative participants arrived at the Howard County Fairgrounds overflowing with enthusiasm and ready to get to work. Their passion for the Coopworth breed and all that it brings to the fiberarts community was palpable. Fairgoers loved their spirit, the cooperative model and their fabulous fiber products.
A lot was learned that first year. The bonus for all, though, was what was learned from each other. In the true spirit of cooperation, the booth went up without a hitch and a lot of time was spent sharing ideas for new products and ways grow in the future. The cooperative was up and running! As that first group packed up to go home, plans were already underway for 2008.
Moving ahead to the present…The cooperative adopted the name EVERYTHING COOPWORTH in 2009 and it has grown by leaps and bounds!
It is now in a much larger space in Maryland to accommodate more members and their products. The group of participating members grows and changes from year to year, fueling enthusiasm and securing the future at the Festival.
EVERYTHING COOPWORTH has become a 'destination' and is known for its handmade finished products, crafting kits and outstanding pelts as well as fine quality fiber, roving and yarn. And it's all produced by our shepherd-members right here in the USA.
In 2014, the co-op opened in a second venue…the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. This Fall festival is a wonderful opportunity for members who can't participate in person at Maryland in the Spring and is easier for members in the northeast to get to. As one of largest sheep festivals in the US, Rhinebeck offers the co-op participants a chance to reach an enormous number of interested and curious fairgoers. This venue has, from the first year, been the winner for sales, and it continues to grow in both products and participants.
We are pleased to report that currently, EVERYTHING COOPWORTH continues to thrive in both Maryland and New York. It has provided a place within ACR for members to build a community that fosters positive relationships and creativity. And it provides ACR a way to fulfill its mission to facilitate the exchange of information between members and help them promote their products. In turn, the co-op helps to attract interest in Coopworth sheep for the conservation and well-being of the breed.