A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

May 5, 2009

Alpaca Shows Without Alpacas

There are very few alpaca shows that do not have alpacas at them, usually those shows are fleece shows only and are combined with conferences or other events.

This past weekend I went to an alpaca show, but this time I did not take alpacas.  We had initially planned on taking just a few alpacas but for various reasons decided that it would be best if I attended the show just as an observer.

On Thursday I headed north to Denver, Colorado and attended the Great Western Alpaca Show (GWAS).

GWAS is a large alpaca show usually attracting over 1,000 alpacas.  From what I hear this year’s alpaca attendance estimate was 1,100.  The show is put on by the Alpaca Breeders of the Rockies and is always well organized and a fun event to attend.

 So what do you do at an alpaca show if you have not taken alpacas to show?  Well the choices are many.  You can meet other alpaca breeders and network with them, you can look at alpacas from many different farms, you can attend seminars and classes put on at the show and of course you can watch the alpaca show.

I enjoyed my time at the show, for me it was very different from when we take alpacas, then we are preoccupied with caring for the alpacas and making sure we get to our classes on time.  Without any alpacas to care for on this trip I was able to set my own pace and take the time to visit with alpaca breeder friends both old and new.  I was also able to check out any alpacas that placed highly in their class, their owners were happy to show them to me and I got to see some exquisite alpacas up close and personal giving me food for thought as to where our breeding program should head next.

The show itself was interesting to watch, not only from the perspective of which alpacas won each class and the judge’s comments but also from the perspective of watching the exhibitor’s showmanship.  Many alpaca breeders have not shown any form of livestock before owning alpacas and some do not take the time to learn at least the basics of showmanship before entering in the show ring, others though do their homework and you can tell from the way they present themselves and their alpacas that they are trying hard to make a positive impression on the judges.

The show also featured a fleece show and a fiber arts show, both of which I spent time admiring.

On the last day of the show I almost decided not to go out to the show grounds, but there were a couple of alpacas who had caught my eye and who I wanted to take a second look at and also the “Get of Sire” class was taking place in the morning and had 18 entries – one of the biggest Get of Sire Classes I have seen. (The Get of Sire Class gives the owner of a herdsire the opportunity to show three of that sire’s offspring who they feel represent the best attributes of the herdsire and show the herdsires consistency in putting those attributes on his offspring).   A Get of Sire Class of that size must be a challenge to judge but the judges seemed to really enjoy that challenge and the winning entry certainly featured three alpacas who were as the judge said “cookie cutter” in their similarity of appearance and a credit to their sire.

The final classes I got to see before leaving the show grounds were the youth costume classes.  The costume classes started in an adjoining ring while the Get of Sire Class was still ongoing and the spectators could not help but have their attention drawn to the sight of both handler and alpaca in their various costumes.  From Batman (handler) and The Joker (alpaca) to Milk Carton (handler) and Cereal Box (alpaca) and Princess (handler) and her Prince (alpaca) the entries showed not only creativity but also how much you can train an alpaca to tolerate (particularly the alpaca who entered the ring sporting a pair of tight fitting pajama bottoms!).

I can recommend attending an alpaca show without alpacas, and it is something that perhaps all alpaca breeders should do once in a while, it gives you a much different perspective on how the show is viewed by those walking through the barn.  Certainly I have some ideas about how we will change our booth set up at future shows.  Most of all though alpaca shows are an enjoyable experience, I enjoyed myself this weekend and managed to make new connections both human and alpaca while doing so.

Rosemary

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