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On a late April day, when the spring season finally intruded on our long winter, I headed north to Sleepy Hollow, New York, near Tarrytown, to watch sheep get their spring coats at the Historic Hudson Valley’s Sheep to Shawl Festival at Philipsburg Manor.

To my delight, there was so much more to do!

The grounds of the Philipsburg Manor Site presented an excellent festival to introduce young families especially to the arts of making and using wool and managing sheep.

We enjoyed plenty of colorful crafts and hands-on demonstrations of shearing, carding, weaving, spinning, and dying wool.

Border collies gleefully showed their skills with sheep and even the most reluctant duck. Their herding, a Festival highlight, took an interesting turn when the brace of ducks refused to return to their cage, due to a particularly feisty one.

The audience gasped each time they turned away, but eventually, the enthusiastic dogs and their persistent trainer were successful to everyone’s cheers.

Fun for Everyone

Running a farm takes a village. It was a good day for teamwork as the children and their parents added their hands to a community weaving project, and then used their feet to negotiate yarn mandala mazes that evolved on the grass during the day. Colorful crafting projects, including quilting, decorating with wooden stamps, and stamping with vegetables, added some gentle fun.

Phillipsburg Manor

I toured the flour mill and overseer’s house in the museum complex to appreciate how the property’s tranquil, but powerful stream draws from the Pocantico River to turn the 2000-pound stones that run the mill. The docents were extremely knowledgeable about the equipment, history, and geography. The museum has an excellent collection of tools and machines that are still in working order, and it pays considerate attention to the slave history of the property, including the names of those early, 17th century, inhabitants who worked the mill and cooked for the overseer. Today, Philipsburg Manor celebrates Pinkster, the oldest African-American holiday, in May at a special festival.

Entertainment

Most of the guests included families with children under ten. The environment was calm—a chance for everyone to try everything–and joyful, with sweet bluegrass music by the New York City Area musicians who perform as “Bluegrass Collusion,” with a variety of food from popcorn and hot dogs to tasty sandwiches for sale.

History

Although I grew up not far from this neighborhood, I learned some new facts about the Dutch overseer, Adolphus Philipse, who inherited the property from his father, Frederick, who had bought it from by Adriaen van der Donckin 1693.At one time, the tract included most of northern Westchester County all the way to Connecticut. Philipse came to this Manor only to review business details regarding the sale of flour and other products; his home, known as Philipse Manor, can be visited a bit further south on the Hudson in Yonkers.

If you are traveling to Sleepy Hollow for a few days, plan to spend some time at another historic home or two—Lyndhurst Castle, and Washington Irving’s home, Sunnyside, are close by, and you can pick up a tour of Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate, from Philipsburg’s welcome center. The grounds of Philipsburg Manor are diagonally across the street from Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, including the grave of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow author Washington Irving, and the Old Dutch Church. For a beautiful installation of stained glass created by Marc Chagall, take the ride up to nearby Pocantico Hills to see the historic Union Church. For information about tours and tickets for these sights, check out the website for Lower Hudson Valley tourism.

If You Go

I’ve stayed nearby at the nearby Doubletree Hotel and Tarrytown House Estate and Conference Center. Both hotels have restaurants that relish well-presented food, with The Cellar at Tarrytown House Estate offering a farm-to-table menu of locally sourced foods and wines. Newer upscale restaurants have emerged along the Hudson to offer you a pricey but beautiful sunset dinner.

If you are looking for a luxurious view of the Hudson and a bit more historical ambience, I would recommend Tarrytown House Estate, one of whose buildings was the home of philanthropist Mary Duke Biddle, whose alma mater, Duke, was named for her family. A transplanted New Yorker, Mary also owned a mansion on Fifth Avenue.

Crochet Insider’s tip: Tarrytown’s Main Street, a fun collection of shops and restaurants and a music hall, features a very cool yarn store: Flying Fingers Yarn Store. Colorful windows preview the many unusual yarns for sale here. Their webstore is being renovated, but they happily take telephone orders from their online catalogue. The owners also go to great lengths to help people get here—they sponsor free yarn bus transportation to and from Manhattan. Make a reservation by calling (877) 359-4648 Toll Free! Plan ahead for your visit because this store is closed on Mondays.

Quick tip: For a refreshing break, check out Coffee Labs Roasters just uphill from Flying Fingers on Main.

If you are traveling to Sleepy Hollow for a few days, plan to spend some time at another historic home or two—Lyndhurst Castle, and Washington Irving’s home, Sunnyside, are close by, and you can pick up a tour of Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate, from Philipsburg’s welcome center. The grounds of Philipsburg Manor are diagonally across the street from Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, including the grave of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow author Washington Irving, and the Old Dutch Church. For a beautiful installation of stained glass created by Marc Chagall, take the ride up to nearby Pocantico Hills to see the historic Union Church. For information about tours and tickets for these sights, check out the website for Lower Hudson Valley tourism. 

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Deborah S. Greenhut
Deborah S. Greenhut is a travel writer and photographer who is trying to live as many lives as she can enjoy in retirement. Her blog, www.Beyond-Beige.com/websiteone, was inspired by the memory of a friend, also a mother of sons, who thought there should be a more colorful life for the Mother of the Groom. Deborah also publishes Kindle travel picture books for children on Amazon under her own imprint, Granny on the Road Books.
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