Business Wales helps the largest wool festival in Wales to stay afloat and find new ways to showcase wool and fibre businesses in the midst of a global pandemic.

Wonderwool Wales is the largest wool festival in Wales. Held annually in Powys, it is a vitally important event for the area, attracting over 6,000 visitors each year. Despite having to cancel the event two years in a row due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Wonderwool received advisory and financial support from the Welsh Government’s Business Wales service and is looking forward to a different, but nonetheless exciting, festival in 2021.

  • Successfully secured £101,611 from the Cultural Recovery Fund.
  • Adopted an Equality and Diversity policy to show customers commitment to operating in an inclusive manner.
  • Adopted a Sustainability policy to reduce costs, improve efficiency and business opportunities by meeting a demand for sustainable business practices.
Wonderwool Bursary 2019


Introduction to business

Wonderwool Wales is the largest wool and fibre festival in Wales. It is held annually at the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells, on the last weekend of April, showcasing over 220 wool and fibre businesses as well as a number of street food providers. In 2019, Wonderwool was awarded The Best Event for 2019/2020 in the inaugural Mid Wales Tourism Awards and Highly Commended in the events category of the Let’s Knit magazine’s British Knitting & Crochet awards.

Where was the idea of the festival born? 

Wonderwool Wales was originally a Glasu project to add product value for small wool producers in Powys and was funded for three years. The original show in 2006 was part of the Royal Welsh Spring Festival with 42 exhibitors. The following year it was organised as a standalone event and has gone from strength to strength ever since. 

After the three years of funding, several members of the steering committee, wool and fibre producers themselves, took on the event, which is now run by three directors, Chrissie Menzies, Sarah Stacey and Olwen Veevers.

We asked Chrissie how they have been coping with the challenges of the pandemic and how the festival has managed to adapt to the new world:

What challenges did you face?

Like many other businesses, Wonderwool Wales has been hit severely by the Covid-19 pandemic. We had to make the decision to cancel the event in 2020 due to the pandemic. This resulted in a loss of all the costs incurred in organising the event and the follow on costs involved with the cancellation, refunds and year-end accounts. All of this wiped out our emergency funds, so we would be starting the 2021 event with nothing but the stand money that half of our exhibitors offered to roll over to keep the event going.

It was a very worrying time, and we were not happy to use funds that technically did not belong to us but to our exhibitors and ticket holders. I had contacted Business Wales previously for assistance with policy matters and was put in touch with [a business adviser] Debra Davies-Russell who has been very helpful in aiding us navigate these difficult times.

Business Wales support

Wales’ premier textile and wool event has been supported by Business Wales’ start-up adviser Debra Davies-Russell and specialist adviser, Catherine Rowland. Debra and Catherine helped Chrissie and the team to put together policies and procedures as part of their application to the Cultural Recovery Fund. As a result, Wonderwool Wales has been able to secure the grant to help with the costs of the 2020 event and the business’ 2021 activities.

The advisers also helped Wonderwool with general business issues arisen because of the pandemic, including business planning, marketing and moving to an online event delivery.


  • Successfully secured £101,611 from the Cultural Recovery Fund.
  • Adopted an Equality and Diversity policy to show customers commitment to operating in an inclusive manner.
  • Adopted a Sustainability policy to cut costs, improve efficiency and business opportunities by meeting demand for sustainable business practices.

I got in touch with Debra to seek funding assistance for the events sector and eventually, Debra informed us of the Cultural Recovery Fund. She assisted us by checking through our application before we submitted it and advised us on any necessary additions. This enabled us to put in a successful application for funding to cover our losses from the 2020 show and the upfront costs for organising the 2021 event. This funding has been an absolute lifesaver for the show and has enabled us to replace our contingency fund for emergencies and to organise our next event without worries.

Unfortunately, we have had to cancel the show for a second year due to the pandemic, which has been very disappointing for our exhibitors, our visitors and us. However, with the Cultural Recovery Fund and careful financial planning, we are in a very good position to carry forward to 2022 when we are determined to hold a bumper event for everyone.

Future plans and ambitions

In 2020, we held our first online show through our Facebook page. We had little knowledge of running online events, so we kept it simple, which worked very well for both visitors and exhibitors. As we have again had to cancel our physical event for April 2021, we are running an online one over the April show weekend and this time, we have hired someone to assist with the setting up and technical running of the event. It will be held on Facebook, but we will now be selling ‘online pitches’ to our exhibitors and will also be selling places on 2-hour workshops that will be running via Zoom throughout the event weekend.

We plan to add more to our Woolschools, which we run throughout the show weekend, and to work with international tutors to offer a wide range of workshops. We have been gaining an international reputation as a wool show destination and it would be great to build on this in the coming years, so that we see even more group tours and individual visitors from abroad attending the event. 

For the past few years, we have been able to provide a £1000 bursary to one or two graduates in BA Knitting and Textiles from Coleg Sir Gar in Carmarthen. The bursary winner(s) have the opportunity to have a stand at the following year’s show free of charge. Due to our financial situation in 2020, we were unable to award the bursary, but we are very pleased to be able to resume this.

We are proud to promote the many uses of wool through the show and to provide a selling platform for small, medium and large businesses involved in the industry and hope to continue to do so for many years to come.

If you want to read more success stories of how Business Wales has helped other people like you to start or grow their businesses, visit or follow @_businesswales / @_busnescymru on Twitter.

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