Fargo Parks Ties In Global Unity Activity at Fiber Arts Festival

For years, the Fargo Park District’s Fiber Arts Festival has been a place for the community to connect and celebrate fiber from sheep shearing to quilting, knitting to cross-stitching.

At the festival this Saturday, the community connection gets literal with the addition of the UNITY Project, an interactive yarn activity sweeping the globe through the Vessence #WeLiveBig Initiative.

In the UNITY Project, 32 posts are arranged in a circle with signs that say identifiers such as “I’m a parent,” “I’m a dog person” or “I speak English as a second language.”

Participants take yarn from the center pole and wrap it around poles with statements that reflect their identities to create a yarn canopy of human connectedness.

According to a statement on the UNITY Project website, the “larger-than-life structure” celebrates distinction and strengthens ties to one another to create a stronger, more vibrant community.

Since the #WeLiveBig Initiative started the project on the east coast in 2016, it has been launched in more than 20 countries.

Photo courtesy of #WeLiveBig.

The Fargo Park District decided to include the project at the Fiber Arts Festival after seeing it at a Parks and Recreation conference.

Having fun with fiber while sharing techniques with the public has always been the goal of the festival, but the addition of the UNITY Project “will be a time for people to come together and see how our differences make a big ‘tapestry’ of Fargo,” says Jessica Korynta, the program coordinator at the Fargo Park District.

Photo courtesy of #WeLiveBig.

“At the festival, we always like (to include) group projects,” says Kim Baird, the volunteer artistic director of the festival. “Yarn is certainly something found in all cultures, and working with it is a way that strangers can get to know each other. Then they won’t be strangers anymore.”

Festival attendees will also enjoy a variety of demonstrations — including sewing machine tutorials, knitting, embroidery and sheep shearing — as well as vendors, shopping and hands-on activities.

Sheep shearing is one of the many attractions of the Fiber Arts Festival. Photo courtesy of Fargo Park District.

Baird, a passionate fiber artist in the community, started the Fiber Arts Festival in 2008 at Bonanzaville and has co-organized the event with the Fargo Park District at Rheault Farm since 2011.

She also co-founded the Quilters’ Guild of North Dakota 35 years ago and is involved in an offshoot organization called Designing Quilters.

“Over the years, my interests have broadened to include dyeing and other surface design, braiding, twisting, knotting, tassels and making felt,” Baird says.

The Fargo Park District usually offers art classes for kids, but the Fiber Arts Festival is the only annual event that focuses on art for all ages.

“Fargo Parks tries to help people make memories and make connections to their community, and the Fiber Arts Festival is a great way to do that,” Korynta says.

For more information on the UNITY Project or the Vessence #WeLiveBig Initiative, visit www.unityproject.net.

If You Go

What: Fiber Arts Festival

When: 10 a.m. — 5 p.m. Saturday, August 12

Where: Rheault Farm (2902 25 th St. S. in Fargo)

Admission: Free and open to the public. More information is available at FargoParks.com.

This article is part of a content partnership with the Fargo Forum and originally appeared in print on Monday, August 7, 2017.

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