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The Great Western Alpaca Show was today, and it was … great. It was also yesterday and is also tomorrow, in case you’re in the area and feel a need to make friends with a fuzz-face.
Held in Denver’s National Western Stock Show complex, the event presents over 1400 alpacas in agility, fancy-dress (aka, costume), fiber, and all-around alpaca fabulousness judging. I don’t think we saw all 1400 alpacas, but I must say that we came pretty darn close. I know there was only one stall hall that we regretfully passed up.
This is a big year for alpacas and us. Devotees may recall the brilliant obstacle course for alpacas, which held our rapt attention at the National Western Stock Show in January. Others may remember that this humble blog made Freshly Pressed with the posting about Alpacas and Auctions back in February. The beasties are playing a more prominent role in my life this year, and I have decided to add owning a pair to the oft-updated life list of things yet to be done.
We arrived around noon and made our way directly to the stalls. Do not pass go, and do not take your alpacas upstairs.
And there they were!
One of the first unusual things we noticed was a family of three attempting to put a long sleeve man’s shirt on a small alpaca. Let me reassure you that this is not an easy task. Perhaps the alpaca did not like that particular plaid. I thought that they might be trying to keep the little guy warm, but I discovered otherwise, as we’ll see later.
Moving down the rows, we encountered Kira, whose real name is GlennaLee. Kira owns and shows several alpacas, who live up in Granby. She lives in Indiana, so they have a long-distance relationship. Kira introduced us to A Whole Lotta Socks, a 16-month old Huacaya (who has extremely small llama balls, we were told), and Lightning, a 7-month old Suri. She was a very welcoming owner, as we found most alpaca ranchers to be. She gave us some insights around alpaca fibers, and how the crimping of the fine fiber close to their skin is the most strictly judged, and how alpacas with blue “chips” in their eyes tend towards blindness. She also let both Kelsea and I walk the guys around a bit. I took Lightning.
Kelsea took Socks.
It was wonderful. I find that I am an excellent alpaca shaman. Here, Lightning and I are discussing a distant alpaca who was wearing a gypsy scarf.
Moving along, we encountered several alpacas who seemed to be in a zen state,
and others who were proudly showing off their awards.
We witnessed first hand a spitting alpaca – boy, does that spit fly. According to Kira, a female alpaca will spit if a male is attempting to mount her and she’s either already pregnant or just extremely unwilling. (Remember that, girls.) These two were swirling around in a battle for dominance that bordered on domestic violence.
And everyone was watching.
That’s the thing about alpacas.
They are fascinated by everything.
And chew the railing.
And sometimes, they snuggle.
We stopped in at the alpaca boutique for a little browsing.
Alpaca fibers make amazingly soft and warm outerwear. Kelsea and I were speculating on creating a line of Alpaca fiber lingerie, since the fiber feels so good next to your skin, but we decided that might wind up being a little … messy.
Some poor unfortunates found themselves shorn in order to have their fiber judged. You could totally feel their sense of shame amongst all the other fluffy alpacas. They looked like my beloved former cat Mammal when we would get her shaved for summer since she got so matted. Like little rats. Except with long necks.
We got a bit lost. I’ve been in this place every year for at least 25 years, but it felt very different from when the Stock Show is running. It was obviously empty, but if felt curious, as if it was waiting for something big. Really quite odd.
After watching some costumed beasts, including our little plaid-shirted alpaca friend emerge from the tunnel like athletes exiting the field, we found ourselves back in the show arena, which was literally a four-ring circus. We saw Kira in one ring with one of her silver alpacas – she’s the lady in the dark shirt at the bottom of the following image.
But we just fell in love with the alpaca dress-up show ring. Each well-clad animal had its complementary handler, and each handler had written a little scenario for the judges, describing their get-ups, that the announcer read as the pair entered the ring.
There was a huge creative assortment.
Captain Jack Sparrow:
Phantom of the Opera:
Rock Stars (both the boy and the alpaca had guitars):
Rabbits (with magician):
Scarecrows (although this alpaca lost his straw-stuffed pants before the conclusion of the judging):
Raggedy Anne and Andy:
And perfectly matched Good Ole’ Boys (the alpaca even had little boots on), who won the blue ribbon in their class.
We finished off the afternoon browsing the product stalls, buying a hat, and two pairs of amazingly soft fingerless gloves. We’ve both wanted fingerless gloves for years.
Toys were adorable.
Children’s clothes were brilliantly colored.
Some weavers are extremely ingeneous, such as the woman who creates fantastically soft and stylish hats with whimsical faces on the back of them, which I thought were awesome. Her name is Shannon Dumais, and she’s from Las Cruces, New Mexico – please check her out at www.Pleasing AlpacaFashions.com.
Our last stop was the first annual Denver Fiber Fiesta. We passed through the hallways with care.
With our fingers raptured by the softness of woven wool, our minds amazed at the intricate, delicate complexities of crochetings and our eyes filled with the gentle rainbow hues of yarn, we took leave of our fuzz-friends.
We stopped only briefly to be amused by this particular image on the outside of the Exhibit Hall, which struck my slightly sick sense of humor.
It was a perfectly charming day.