The population of Waldo County is expected to swell by at least 1,000 people this weekend, when a patchwork of participants and instructors from neighboring towns and states flock to a local campground for the sixth annual Fiber College.

For four days, beginning Thursday, Sept. 8, Searsport Shores Campground will be transformed into a menagerie of classrooms on the waterfront, where area artists will teach a variety of crafts for all skill levels — everything from weaving and woodworking, to spinning and crocheting.

According to Marketing Director Marie Marden, Fiber College has grown into the biggest event of its kind on the east coast (last year, more than 1,000 people attended). The line-up of classes, demonstrations and vendors for this year, Marden said, suggests the celebration of all things woven, spun and sewn, still has room to grow.

“Last year, we had 20 vendors,” said Marden. “This year, we’re looking at 30.”

Vendors who set up booths and sell their wares at Fiber College pay a fee to do so, but Marden said all are offered discounts in exchange for providing demonstrations using the items they sell. One unique aspect of the event is that all of the items for sale will be in the form of kits and materials — it’s up to the purchaser to create a finished product using the skills they learned at Fiber College.

In addition to more vendors at the event, the campground itself will feature its newest addition, the rustic and spacious structure that is simply called the art studio. Marden said the studio, which has been a year in the making, was constructed with the help of many Searsport Shores campers who volunteered their time and services.

The names of some of those volunteers are carved into decorative wooden blocks that are included as part of a post that rises out of the center of the floor, Marden said, and local artist and woodworker Tom Cote is in the process of completing the carvings so that all who assisted will be listed on the post.

Another new facet of this year’s event is Knitmaine-ia, a fashion show fundraiser featuring a variety of handknitted and crocheted items. All proceeds from the show — which is organized by the Women of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Belfast and Fiber College — will benefit New Hope for Women, an organization that offers support to people who are affected by domestic or dating violence.

Many of the participants who may have initially come to Fiber College events out of curiosity, said Marden, have since returned to the campground to participate every year. For many of the returning campers-turned-fiber-artists, Marden said, the draw isn’t just about learning about needle felting and fiber dye plants — it’s about the people they’ve met in the process.

Each day has special times set aside for socializing, or sharing a meal — take the Friday night potluck supper or the Hootenanny in the art studio, for example. It’s get-togethers such as these, said Marden, that give participants the most meaningful experiences that Fiber College can offer: reconnecting with old friends and forging new relationships.

“That is very important to us here,” said Marden.

Marden said she has come to feel quite at home at the campground, too, as has her Nigerian dwarf goat, Arthur. Marden and Arthur have been well received by the campground visitors, Marden said, especially the children who come to stay with their families. Arthur typically spends his days with the resident “fiber critters,” a cashmere goat named Brambles and a pair of Angora goats — a male named Neeshee and a female named Queen Lolly.

Brambles, Neeshee and Queen Lolly are bound by a common thread, in that all three sprout hair or wool that can be used to make various types of yarn.

Marden, who is in her first year serving as the marketing director for the event, said she’s been amazed at the level of excitement that builds before the kickoff of Fiber College.

“I’ve met so many neat people already, and I’ve really enjoyed meeting all of the vendors and teachers,” she said.

Fiber College will be held Thursday, Sept. 8, through Sunday, Sept. 11, at Searsport Shores. Tickets for Knitmaine-ia are $10, and the admission price includes a wine and cheese reception to follow at the art studio. Tickets may be purchased in advance at Heavenly Socks, 82 Main St., Belfast; Fiddlehead Artisan Supplies, 159 High St., Belfast; or at the campground. The show begins at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8.

For information or to register for classes, visit or call 548-6059.