On October 12, alpaca breeders from the states of Washington, Oregon and California arrive at the EXPO with trailers full of humming, woolly creatures ready to impress the judges. Breeders are bringing their best alpacas to AlpacaMania, the 11th Annual Halter and Fleece Show, taking place Saturday and Sunday, October 13 and 14. Scheduled events include halter shows, fleece judging, display of a spin-off competition, spinning and knitting demonstrations, a People’s Choice Fiber Art competition and sale, a silent auction, and a photo contest. There will also be vendors offering alpaca products and farm equipment. The show is organized by the State of Jefferson Alpaca Association, a regional group of 35 alpaca breeders.
Alpacas, native to South America, sheared once a year, produce one of the world’s finest and most luxurious natural fibers in 22 natural colors, more colors than any other fiber producing animal. The fiber is warmer, lighter and stronger than sheep’s wool. Alpacas were a cherished treasure of the ancient Incan civilization. They played a central role in the Incan culture that was located on the high Andean Plateau and mountains of South America where they have been domesticated for over 5000 years.
The American alpaca herd is growing steadily, now numbering over 231,000 registered alpacas nationwide. Ohio leads with nearly 27,000, followed by the state of Washington with close to 19,000, and Oregon with over 16,000. White is the most prevalent color at 26% (perfect for dyeing and preferred in South America), while grey animals are least represented with only 1%.
Alpacas can be raised on small acreage, about five to an acre. They are easy on the land due to their padded feet, and provide a renewable resource in their fiber.
At an alpaca show, white classes are the largest, and therefore, the most competitive. “To place well in a white class is quite an accomplishment,” says event coordinator Renate Gyuro. “There may be over 10 animals in a white class, and only 1st through 4th place are awarded ribbons.”
The show is open to the public Saturday from 9 AM to 4 PM, and Sunday from 9 AM to 3 PM.
Admission is free. For more information, call Renate Gyuro, 541-826-7411.