SHAWNEE, OK – Alpacas of Oklahoma will host the largest Alpaca Owners Association (AOA) halter and fleece competition in the southwest region on November 11 and 12.
The annual Oklahoma Alpaca Holiday Blast Off, themed “Alpacas and Sustainable Agriculture” will draw hundreds of alpacas from across the country to Shawnee, along with alpaca enthusiasts and fiber art aficionados.
“We have expanded our vendor opportunities to support Sustainable Agriculture, Agritourism, and Made in Oklahoma (MIO) goods and services,” say organizers.
The public is invited to attend the free two day event on Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Heart of Oklahoma Expo Center, 1700 W Independence Street. Check in for the event will take place on Friday Nov. 10, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Fall Harvest Banquet and Mystery Raffle will be held on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 6 p.m.
The Holiday Blast Off offers guests the opportunity to learn more about the alpaca industry, to talk to hundreds of breeders and to interact with, and take photos with the alpacas.
Judges for the event are David Barboza, Diana Timmerman, and Mary Miller.
The alpaca is the smallest member of the camel family, with an average height at the shoulder of 3 feet. They are 4 to 7 feet long and weigh 121 to 143 pounds, according to the University of Michigan’s Animal Diversity Web (ADW).
The alpaca comes in two breed-types: huacaya (pronounced wah‑KI‑ah) and suri (SOO‑ree). Huacayas account for about 90 percent of all alpacas. They have fluffy, crimpy fleece that gives the animals a “teddy bear-like” appearance. Suris have a silky fleece that grows in “pencil-locks.”
Alpacas are gentle and curious social creatures that live up to 20 years. They can be trained to become great pets. They mix well and are often raised with herds that include animals of different species such as llamas, goats and sheep, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAO). http://www.alpacaland.com
Alpacas are herbivores and only eat vegetation consisting of mostly grass, leaves, wood, bark or stems.
Alpaca fur is a much sought after fiber for artisans and crafters. Alpaca fur is very soft, does not retain water, and is very durable. According to National Geographic, alpaca fur is the second strongest animal fiber, after mohair. /
Their fleece comes in 16 official colors (white; beige; and shades of fawn, brown, black, and grey) but include other subtle shades and hues. White, light fawn, and light grey can be easily dyed offering a variety of colors for the fiber artist.
Janice and John Robinson began raising alpacas in 2002. “We started our alpaca ranch with two young females and a dream of the lifestyle,” said John Robinson, president of Alpacas of Oklahoma and owner of Just Right Alpacas, in Jones, OK. “Our dream has been fulfilled and continues to grow. Not only the animals with their gentle ways and easy care, but now we have a knitting studio and store. We also offer farm tours, group or individual classes.” For more information, call 405-590-5720.
During the Holiday Blast off, alpacas will be featured in the show ring competition, judging conformation and fleece quality in several categories for both Suri and Huacaya alpacas.
Attendees can learn how alpaca fleece is processed at several educational areas including the “Farm to Fiber to Fashion” display.
Local gift items will be available at dozens of vendors and farm displays, just in time for the holidays. Items will feature high quality finished products, including the latest alpaca fashions and hand-crafted products.
There will be children’s activities making the Holiday Blast Off a good opportunity to learn how to incorporate alpacas into local county 4-H programs.
A regional affiliate of the Alpaca Owners Association, Alpacas of Oklahoma is one of the most active regional alpaca groups in the country. The organization is dedicated to the “ethical promotion of all things alpaca.”
The association provides a variety of services that support existing farms and ranches and helps those who are new to the alpaca industry. Alpacas of Oklahoma gives members a resource that supports the health and welfare of this unique livestock choice.