Wooly Fair, a participatory art carnival that is unique to Providence and legendary for its variety, creativity and immersive playfulness, returns to the Steel Yard on Saturday, September 30th, 3pm-10pm, after a 10-year hiatus.


Wooly Fair 2023: Big Deal brings back a festival experience that is unlike any other. The event is built by artists and artists-at-heart whose installations, handmade games, performances and spectacles encourage us all to let go of limiting ideas about performer-audience divides. Offering programming for young and old, from all walks of life, Wooly Fair asks attendees to create rather than consume, to be part of an event that is as singular as Providence itself, and to have a wonderful time doing it! 


Wooly Fair: Big Deal promises to recreate its magic, welcoming back community members who have asked after it for years and greeting a whole new generation of Woolies.


2023 Wooly Fair Art Installations Include: 

Big Tobacco 

Big Flower 

Big Cupcake 

The Big Deal is Done

Pixel Lamb

Kraken Wranglers

The Wishing Well

Carona Quarantine

Kissing Booth


The Magic Carwash

Win a Tree Ring Toss

The Hot Dog Spa

World News and Report

The Wonder Web

Dichroic Disco

Puzzical Chairs


2023 Wooly Fair Performers Include:


Triangle Forest

Atlantic Thrills

Tim O’Keefe

Sun Urchins

Big Bank

Wooly Alley Vinyl Dance Party 


What happens at Wooly Fair?


A playful showcase for the maker community, over eight iterations from 2005-2013, Wooly Fair distinguished itself as a venue for local artists and makers to create ambitious installations outside the scope of their everyday practiceand allowed people who don’t make art their profession to create works of participatory art. That has included a sixty-foot-long tunnel filled with popcorn that could be crawled through, a climbable ziggurat where Woolies planted pocket gardens, tricycle races, a game where Woolies sought out those wearing matching adornments to complete a mating ritual, a Bad Date Obstacle Course where two participants ran a delightfully harrowing course where they had to get past a humongous wet pet dog and a pick up a check the size of a door.


Despite having a stage, Wooly Fair is unlike other events that have strict audience-performer divides. Wooly Fair challenges its attendees to become part of the event. Everyone who attends Wooly Fair is assigned a new name and fake nationality at the door. Costuming is encouraged. And a one-day alternate reality—where every Wooly plays a part—unfolds. 

Wooly Fair is magic.  The confluence of so much maker energy and attendee involvement creates an environment of spontaneous creative occurrences. Unusual connections are made, and wild unexplainable coincidences occur. In 2006, two teams ran the delightfully harrowing Bad Date Obstacle course and tied exactly, to the 100th of a second.


In 2023 Wooly Fair was awarded a RISCA Community Engagement Grant, and is a fully licensed and insured event.


About Us

Wooly Fair 2023: Big Deal is produced by Sam White and David Allyn, and the Nicholson File Art Studios.


Sam White is an artist who explores themes of nature, humor, nascent technology, and contradiction through a range of forms. Sam’s art comprises murals, screen prints, sculpture, installations, event production, and more. He founded Wooly Fair in 2005, and directed it over eight seasons with the help of the Providence creative community. He is an active member of the Nicholson File Art Studios community. 


Performance art was the catalyst for David Allyn’s career as a ceramic artist. His gigs as “Unkle Thirsty” led him to make ceramic cups, which he says led to a “more grounded” approach to his craft. Using photo decals and silkscreen printing on porcelain, Allyn creates one-of-a-kind handmade porcelain objects, filled with color and imagery. His work often reflects popular culture. Allyn is the founder of the Steel Yard’s ceramic department, where he has taught classes for over a decade. Originally from the Midwest, Allyn graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, before earning an MFA in ceramics from the Rhode Island School of Design.  Allyn has been awarded a McKnight Fellowship and been chosen as a Rhode Island State Council of The Arts Fellow. His work is in several museum permanent collections, including Newport Art Museum, Museum of Art, at Rhode Island School of Design. Allyn currently maintains a full time studio practice split between Nicholson File and 50 Sims in Providence’s Valley neighborhood.                          

Contact info


(401) 837-5438



Wooly Fair has partnered with Monohasset Mill and the Steel Yard as event hosts, and welcomed the participation of hundreds and hundreds of Providence and Rhode Island-area community members.



“I had fun stepping out of my daily routine, hula hooping, and having a new life experience that is a bit bizarre and entirely about having fun.” —Scott Indermauer, Indermauer Media


“This vibrant spectacle that showcases the city’s creative community adds kid-friendly activities to the

“Attending the festival is not a passive act. You don’t go to watch a show or be entertained – to go to be a part of the show, to be entertainment. It’s an immersive experience. You’re not so much attending an event as existing and interacting within a fully realized place – one that is whimsical and temporary, but a place nonetheless.” —”Wooly Fair is All That And a Bag of Mail: Notes on Providence’s Best Festival” by John Taraborelli, Cityscape Magic