Anne’s Web Wool Spinning Group Selected by Monterey County Fair for Blue Ribbon Award from Western Fairs Association for Work on Fair’s Wool Auction


MONTEREY, CA. (July 25, 2022) — The Monterey County Fair Board of Directors has chosen the Central Coast wool spinning group Anne’s Web to receive the 2022 Blue Ribbon Award from the Western Fairs Association for its work on the Fair’s annual Wool Show and Auction.

The award will be presented at 11:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 5, at the 2022 Monterey County Fair Wool Auction at the 2022 Monterey County Fair, which will be held Thursday through Monday, Sept. 1-5, 2022, at the Monterey County Fair & Event Center, 2004 Fairground Road, in Monterey.

The theme of this year’s Fair, appropriately enough, is “Wool Meet Ewe at the Fair!”

The Blue Ribbon Award recognizes and honors those individuals or groups who have provided outstanding support to the fair and/or fair industry, including volunteers, groups, sponsors, and educators.

This industry recognition program allows WFA member fairs to show their appreciation of individuals or organizations who have volunteered their time and energy in support of their fair.

History of Anne’s Web

The spinning group known as Anne’s Web began, and functioned as, an informal gathering of women interested in learning the art of spinning.

In 1990, Mary Helen Van Veen’s family had a reunion. Mary Helen, on a whim, asked one of her cousins who raised sheep, to bring some wool so she could experiment with it. Her cousin, smelling an incipient spinner, brought an Ashford wheel with her for Mary Helen to use. Wool Show Co-founder, Joanne Nissen, passed along some names of spinners and recommended that Mary Helen attend the Wool Auction at the Monterey County Fair. One person recommended by Joanne was Regina Le Gard, who was an active spinner who did demos at North County Schools where Claudia Ward taught fourth grade.

Following JoAnne’s suggestion, Mary Helen attended the annual Wool Show, which Anne Blinks was attending.  Similarly, the same year, Lily Blalock found out about the Fair demo. Anne was accompanied by a caregiver who had the bright idea that the small group of people spinning at the fair should continue meeting at Anne’s home after the fair. It was agreed that the little group would meet for a potluck on the second Saturday of the month, at Anne Blinks’ beautiful Jack’s Peak home.  This was approximately five years before Anne passed away. Since Anne had been the impetus for the formation of a spinning group, and because of her fame in the fiber world, upon her death it was decided to name the group for her.

Where to meet now? The group was relatively small at this point and we took turns hosting in each other’s homes. One December the group held a more festive meeting than usual for Christmas. No one bothered to tell the PG&E we were having a party, so they proceeded, with no warning at all, to turn off the gas for some project.  We kept busy maintaining a fire in Claudia’s fireplace to keep warm. The PG&E got an earful on Monday when Claudia lodged a complaint!

Eventually we got too big to meet in our homes. Also, the group is open to the public, so we felt with larger numbers, it would be better to meet in quasi-public places. Like at the beginning, many of our members still come to us via the Fair spinning demos and our Learn to Spin Days which we hold each September after the Fair.

Finally, Gerry Wade was able to make arrangements to meet at the Buena Vista Grange, and so we did, for several years. Nothing lasts forever, so after trying two or three other possible locations, we decided to accept the invitation of the Monterey County Fair to hold our meetings there.

The original organizers of the Wool Show, JoAnne Nissen, and Vi and Marian Stanley were ready to retire. At this point the Wool Show organizers and Anne’s Web had melded together to a large degree. Also, because of legal considerations, Anne’s Web applied to CNCH for membership (Conference of Northern California Handweavers). Accomplishing that formalized what had been a laissez-faire arrangement for 32 years.

Spinning on the Second Saturday has become de rigueur for many of our members, trumping other activities. Members have come and gone, died, married.  Close relationships have developed. Small groups have taken trips to Scotland, Norway and other wooly places.

In short, Anne’s Web has introduced many people to that ancient and wonderful resource called wool, while developing a community that brings people together from all over both Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties.  

For more information about the Fair, call (831) 372-5863 or go to:

About the Monterey County Fair & Event Center

The Monterey County Fair & Event Center is a premier event center set on 22 oak-studded acres with ample parking. It is a state-owned multi-use facility that features four large banquet rooms, two outdoor concert venues, and a variety of outdoor and indoor cost-effective sites ideal for all types of events. It is home of the annual award-winning Monterey County Fair, host to many major and private events on the Central Coast, and the site of the Monterey Bay Race Place, a Satellite Wagering Facility.