Wisconsin Wool Works!

Two Decades and Counting: Wisconsin Wool Works! A Success Story

For years the Sheep & Goat Barn at the Wisconsin State Fair has held one of the better kept secrets of the fair experience. It might not be what the average fairgoer would think of as the go-to place to for hand-knitted sweaters, yarn, sheepskin slippers and roving, but once through the door, most first-time visitors are hooked. The Wisconsin Wool Works! is definitely habit forming.
Envisioned in 1999 by a small group of enthusiasts as a way to both promote and merchandise Wisconsin-sourced fiber products, and sponsored by the Wisconsin Sheep Breeders Co-op, the booth has grown from its original, tightly packed 400 square feet to double the size. Thanks to the encouragement and investment of state fair’s Agriculture Department, the emphasis has grown to encompass education about the fiber arts and the added space has allowed a steady stream of local guild members and consignors to daily demonstrate their skills at spinning, knitting, weaving and felting. It's rare not to see children - and adults - watching intently as the mysteries of a drop spindle are explained or trying their hand at a spinning wheel.
The focus, of course, is on sales and promotion for the sheep and fiber industries over the fair’s eleven-day run. Consignors are required to be co-op members and to give at least a day to the booth to answer questions, help with the cash register or demonstrate a skill. For the opportunity to sell their products to hundreds of daily visitors passing through the sheep barn, consignors pay 25% of their respective gross sales to the Wisconsin Sheep Breeders. Combined with the sales from the Wisconsin Wool Works! booth at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival, the cooperative nets between $5,000 and $8,000 a year after expenses. While the goal is to first promote Wisconsin artists and businesses, commercially-sourced items often fill the gaps in product displays.
In addition to the dozen consignors and volunteers who help on a daily basis at the fair, the Wool Works is managed by Mary Laidlaw-Otto,Franklin; Deb Skubal, Denmark; Alyssia Kniaz, Cedarburg; and with the help of Steve & Erin Whalen, Whitewater and Carol Black, Columbus. The festival Wisconsin Wool Works! booth at Jefferson is managed by Black and staffed by consignors and volunteers.
While the physical structure that houses the Wool Works is owned by the Wisconsin State Fair, the Sheep Breeders is responsible for most of the upgrades and maintenance. The booth is also subject to the scrutiny of the Wisconsin State Fair Vendor Services which yearly evaluates and scores each vendor against a set of standards in the fair’s Vendor Manual, offering suggestions for improvement where appropriate. A perfect score is 6.0 and in 2022 the Wool Works received a score of 5.5. But keeping the shopping experience fresh is a challenge, especially with hundreds of items displayed in less than 800 square feet and with an eye on the budget. However, in recent years the Wisconsin Sheep Breeders has made numerous investments in the space such as installing an epoxy floor, adding lighting, investing in displays and painting. For the foreseeable future, the Wisconsin Wool Works! will keep telling the story of Wisconsin's fiber artists and industry, building that habit forming experience among its many customers.
For more information about the Wisconsin Wool Works! contact Carol Black at 920 296-0326;
Mary Laidlaw-Otto at 414-690-5906,
Alyssia Kniaz at 414-254-3063 or
Deb Skubal at 920-255-4159

Mary, Alyssia, and Deb along with the help of Steve & Erin Whalen-Whitewater help manage the Wisconsin Wool Works! booth at the Wisconsin State Fair, now going into its twenty-third year. Located in the middle of the Sheep & Goat Barn, the Wisconsin Sheep Breeders Co-op's retail space attracts hundreds of fairgoers during the eleven-day run of the fair and displays the products of over two dozen consignors.


Barbara Schickel-Sarasponda Spinners
4051 Harris Rd.,Mineral Point, WI 53565
Phone: 563-581-5826
Email: [email protected]
Baby & child Hats, Wooly Worms


Carol Batternberg
W5670 Finder Rd., Johnson Creek, WI 53038
Phone: 920-988-2364
Email: [email protected]
Fabric Purses

Carol Black-Ewesful Gifts. LLC
7868 State Rd. 73, Columbus, WI 53925
Phone: 920-296-0326
Email:[email protected]
Stuffed animals, Woolen clothing, Slippers, Lanolin hand cream

Carol Wagner-Hidden Valley Woolen Mill
14804 Newton Road, Valders, WI 54245
Phone: 920-758-2803
Email:[email protected]

Charlie Neumann
2809 N. 56th Street, Milwaukee, WI 53210
Phone: 414-617-4199
Email: [email protected]
Knitted items, Dryer Balls

Christine Simms
1090 Center Place, Dubuque, IA 52001
Phone: 565-542-3777
Email: [email protected]
Dryer balls


Deb Galaz-Lana de Flor
350 Bloomington, Wooster, OH 44691
Phone: 330-347-7012
Email: [email protected]
Felted Hats & scarves, Ornaments

Deb Skubal-
E1099 County Road KB, Denmark, WI 54208
Phone: 920-255-4159
Email: [email protected]
Woven clothing Mittens, Hand Soaps and lotions


Estelle Serena
332 S. Kane Street, Burlington, WI 53105
Phone: 262-492-7947
Email: [email protected]
Woven rugs

Erin & Steve Whalen-The Scarf Connection
W5737 Greening Rd, Whitewater, WI 53190
Phone: 262-348-6754
Email: [email protected]
Felted Figurines, Felt Kits, Scarves, Hats


Jennifer Herzberg
W471 Lienke Rd. 16 & 60,Columbus, WI53925
Phone: 920-318-9624
Email: [email protected]
Felted ornaments, purses, and figurines

Joellyn Cobb-Hooked on Wool
1919 Robert, Champaign, IL 61821
Phone: 217-369-2086
Email: [email protected]
Felted Figurines, bookmarks, and hot pads


Kathryn Braun-Braun Earth Acres
3316 Cty Rd S, Cato, WI 54230
Phone: 920-732-3312
Email: [email protected]
Pelts, Small felted sheep, Hot pads

Kate Robbins
N778 State Rd 113, Lodi, WI 53535
Phone: 608-592-3224
Email: [email protected]
Knit hats and mittens

Kay Walters-Cedarburg Woolin Mill
W62N580 Washington Ave., Cedarburg, WI 53012
Phone: 262-675-2858
Email: [email protected]
Wool Batting, Quilts


Laura Barrie-Psalm 23 Farm
N1195 Plymouth Trail, New Holstein, WI 53061
Phone: 920-797-9124
Email: [email protected]
Hand dyed and spun Yarn

Lori Knutson-Paradise Acres
PO Box 303, Random Lake, WI 53075
Phone: 414-640-6987
Email: [email protected]
Goats Milk Soaps


Maralyn Fowler-Croftland Farm
W8151 County Road F, Cascade, WI 53011
Phone: 920-528-8013
Email: [email protected]


Stephanie Glagio
4927 S. Division RD, Waterford, WI 53185
Phone: 414-617-2966
Email: [email protected]
Arm Warmers


Wendy Sleider
W289 S2954 Road DT, Waukesha, WI 53188
Phone 414-630-4902
Email: [email protected]
Felted Hats, soaps, puppets, scarves

Wynn Wittkopf-Wiese Weavers
N41W28899 Imperial Dr, Pewaukee, WI 53072
Phone 262-370-1433
Email: [email protected]
Woven Blankets