TINSELTOWN

BETSY SKOTCH

In its second year in Kimberton, the event was a complete sellout, with hundreds of spectators and 65 ranches in attendance. Q102's Diego came out to the show Saturday morning.

The Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (AOBA) certified the show, which was hosted by the Illusion Ranch. Proceeds were donated to the Pennsylvania Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (PAOBA).

Alpacas are similar to llamas and camels but are not spitters. The animals get to be about 36" tall and 150 pounds. They animals are known for the soft fiber they produce.

Inca Fashions from Creekside Breeders setup a booth at the event, where they sold teddy bears, bunnies, sweaters, socks and scarves made from the very soft alpaca fleece.

"People love the alpacas, and they're excited about them," said designer Kimberly DeVos. "I'm surprised how many local people came out and embraced not only the alpacas but also the apparel."

"We had a great time. This was a great show," said Andrew Merriwether, of Nyala Farm Alpacas in New York. "It was very well run."

"They put on a great show," said Ann Merriwether. "It's been really fun."

Black, brown, white, gray and cream alpacas of varying sizes were displayed and purchased Saturday and Sunday during the exhibition. White alpacas are popular because their fleece is dyable, while black and gray animals are popular for being rare.

During a tour of the show ring, the animal's name, birthday, breeding, awards and fleece are announced to the spectators.

The ungroomed alpacas are judged over two days. There are numerous classes, segregated by gender, color, age and type. They are judged based on body conformation and consistency and quality of fleece.

"Animals are only shown against like animals," said Robin Gilmore, show organizer, promoter and Illusion Ranch owner.

Both breeds were shown during the two-day event, the long-haired suri and the soft and puffy huacaya.

"Usually, juveniles sell better to new breeders because new breeders want to see them grow up and bond with the animal as it grows. It's a more personal type of relationship," said Gilmore. "Mature animals sell to established breeders with many animals."

Females are either sold pregnant or when they are about to be pregnant. Alpacas have babies every 11 and a half to 12 months.

In May, Harrisburg hosts the biggest alpaca show in the world.

"Pennsylvania is a big alpaca state," said Gilmore.

Three thousand alpacas and 60 breeders are in the state, with 51,000 alpacas in the country.

"A very good friend introduced me to alpacas. It's something I've been very, very grateful for," Gilmore said. "Alpacas are a terrific lifestyle. It's a special, home-based business anybody with a little bit of land can get into."

Alpacas don't tear up land, and they eat grass and hay.

"Alpacas are the oldest domesticated animals on the planet," Gilmore said.

Gilmore said the show will "absolutely" be returning next summer on the same weekend.

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