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Riverhead fair features fleece, fiber

Patricia, left, and Adele Tomassi with their Angora

Patricia, left, and Adele Tomassi with their Angora rabbit, Marcela, at the Long Island Fleece & Fiber Fair. (May 20, 2012) Credit: Arielle Dollinger

Patricia Tomassi sat petting Marcela, an 18-month-old French Angora rabbit Sunday, as people came up to pet the even-tempered hare.

“Oh gosh, it’s like a cloud,” one woman says.

Adele and Patricia Tomassi of Great Neck, who have been together for 42 years and got married last August, have eight “children” -- their Angora rabbits.

The pair has attended the Long Island Fleece & Fiber Fair every year since it began in 2010 to meet people and educate them about the rabbits, Patricia says.

The fair, held at the Hallockville Museum Farm in Riverhead last Sunday, showcased fleece and fiber industries, including activities like sheep herding, knitting and basket weaving.

While the Tomassis take material from the rabbits, others, like Joanne Garcia, turn material into wool. Garcia sat Sunday across the fairgrounds, spinning with her 8-year-old daughter Erica.

The crowd seemed larger this year, says Garcia, who also attended the fair in its first year.

“It’s a beautiful day, there’s something for everyone to see,” she said. “People come out and see looms and spinning wheels and sheep herding, it’s not something that they get to see anywhere else on Long Island, and events like this tend to be larger in more rural areas.”

Spinning yarn at a late-1800s French Canadian wheel a few feet away from Garcia sat Rosane Mordt, a programmer/analyst at Hofstra University who took up spinning about 16 years ago.

Mordt’s first exposure to spinning was almost 20 years ago, she explained, when she attended a similar fair on the South Shore of Long Island. She was intrigued by the people doing something she had never seen before, “that involved something going ‘round.”

“I found home,” she says.

A first-timer at the fair, Mordt was “having a grand old time.”

“This is my first year here, and I’m just loving it,” she said. “The grounds are beautiful, people seem to be genuinely interested in the activities.”

Lois Scanlon, a former Southampton resident who now lives in Virginia Beach, Va., happened on the fair by accident when she and her cousin, a resident of Southold, were on their way back from a visit to Hampton Bays.

Scanlon pointed to a brown shopping bag containing the yarn she had just purchased and said, “It’s phenomenal.”

Patricia, left, and Adele Tomassi with their Angora rabbit, Marcela, at the Long Island Fleece & Fiber Fair. (May 20, 2012)

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