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Get Ready to Hit the Alpaca Adventure Trail

BearKat-Alpacas-Aug-to-Oct-2012-1427Regional Farms Open Doors for 

National Alpaca Farm Days Sept. 28–29 

By Eva Potter

It happens every year the last weekend in September, but this year National Alpaca Farm Days will incorporate a new local twist — the Alpaca Adventure Trail. The Ellicottville Times has created a fun way to experience many of the region’s alpaca farms all in one easy weekend on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 28–29. Most farms are open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. both days, but it’s smart to check with individual farms before arriving.

Hit the Alpaca Adventure Trail

The Alpaca Adventure Trail will delight visitors young and old as you follow the map (see page 8) on a discovery adventure to some of the coolest places around. Visit each farm and meet the softest animals you’ve ever touched. It’s a great way to spend a day outdoors with your entire family.

Alpacas are very tame and gentle animals, each with a personality all its own, that often become an extended member of the family.

Alpacas are bred for their fiber, which is luxuriously soft and silky to the touch. Some of the farms on the Alpaca Adventure Trail have farm stores where you will be able to purchase gorgeous sweaters, stuffed animals, gloves, scarves and many other alpaca products. You can even buy natural or hand-dyed skeins to knit into your own wearable masterpiece.

Alpaca fiber is naturally warmer than wool or cotton, hypoallergenic and naturally flame resistant. It also retains its insulation properties even when wet. What’s not to love?

The Alpaca Lifestyle

When you venture out on the Alpaca Adventure Trail, you’ll get to experience farming of different kind. Alpaca farming isn’t nearly as difficult as caring for cattle and other large animals. They require minimal care with many wonderful returns. When you chat with alpaca owners, be sure to ask them about what these animals eat, what it takes to care for them, where they sleep and how they play for fun.

From a farming perspective, you can learn about the joys of becoming an alpaca farmer, take a short accounting seminar to learn about potential income from alpaca farming, learn about breeding programs and meet blue ribbon alpaca champions.

Many farms will host demonstrations of spinning, felting, weaving, carding, yarn painting and hand shearing. You can even try the alpaca “kissing” booth! There will also be games, prizes, refreshments and music at some of the farms.

Alpaca Adventure Trail Farms

Fill  your tank, pack up the kids and head out for a day of fun. Check out the map on page 8 for participating Alpaca Adventure Trail Farms including A Slice of Heaven Alpacas, Randolph; BearKat Alpacas, Humphrey; Cardinal Acres Alpacas, Little Valley; Kendall Creek Farms Alpacas, Bradford, PA, Lady Song Farm, Randolph; Mager Mountain Alpacas, Little Valley, Sugartown Farms Alpacas, Ellicottville; and VanDyke’s Alpaca Ranch, Great Valley.

Fiber Festival Sparks Creativity

How does wool become yarn? What sound does an alpaca make? Do people really still use spinning wheels?

If you can’t answer these questions, then incorporate a stop at the Western New York Fiber Arts Festival on Saturday, Sept. 28 as part of your Alpaca Adventure Trail weekend. The festival is celebrating its ninth year and it’s really worth a look. Located in South Wales, it’s a scenic drive north on Route 16 to Emery Park, located south of East Aurora.

The kids will love all the animals like sheep, llamas, alpacas, bunnies and silk worms — and they all have fiber in common. There’s also a make-and-take craft activity the kids can take home as a memento.

A variety of artisans will hold demonstrations on spinning, crocheting, knitting, embroidering, weaving and tatting. These experts will also be happy to answer all your questions about animal behavior, products and animal husbandry. So come and get inspired!

Admission to the festival is $5; children under 10 are still free. For more information, contact locusthill@yahoo.com or call Victoria at (716) 652-3237.

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