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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Warm, fuzzy Alpacas arrive

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Alpacas, a relative of the llama and the camel, are native to South America but are now raised on North American farms for their fleece, which is strong, warm and soft.
(T-G File Photo by Sadie Fowler)
The 11th annual Southern Select Alpaca Show returns to Calsonic Arena on the Celebration grounds this weekend, and it's the type of show that's friendly to spectators, according to Kay Kemp of Petersburg, one of the organizers.

There's no admission charge for visitors; the show will open to the public at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Big hopes

Kemp said organizers expect a strong turnout; more than 500 registrations would make the show a Level IV show as defined by the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association, and that's what Kemp is expecting, calling it "one of our biggest shows yet."

There will be vendors selling products made from alpaca fleece. According to the Southeastern Alpaca Association, the product is "warmer than wool, and yet as soft as cashmere." For knitters, alpaca yarn will be on sale.

There will be a fleece shawl demonstration during this weekend's show, said Kemp. Raw alpaca fleece will be sent through the picker, the carder and the spinner, and then added to a pre-warped loom to weave a shawl.

Real performers

While there are halter classes in which the animals are judged for their appearance, Kemp said the public might especially enjoy the performance classes, including obstacle and agility classes. Performance classes will begin earlier in the day than the 3 p.m. start time listed at the show's website, although Kemp wasn't sure of an exact start time.

Kemp said the public is also free to wander through the barn area at the Celebration grounds, chat with owners and view the animals up close.

"Everybody's always ready to talk to folks," said Kemp.

The alpaca was "a cherished treasure of the ancient Incan civilization," according to the AOBA website. The animal is native to the Andes mountains in South America.