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Alpaca Farms on Alpaca Adventure Trail Sept. 27-28

By Alicia Dziak

Looking for a new way to enjoy the region this time of year? Check out National Alpaca Farm Days Sept. 27-28 and get a glimpse into the world of alpacas.

This is a great opportunity to feel the alpaca fleece, tour local farms, experience live demonstrations, learn about raising and breeding alpacas, shop for alpaca products and enjoy a fun-filled autumn day.

The many stops along Western New York’s Alpaca Adventure Trail are part of next weekend’s National Alpaca Farm Days, where alpaca farms across the country welcome visitors of all ages to meet alpacas and learn about the alpaca lifestyle. Stop by any or all of these wonderful farms during this time — most will be open both days; check with individual farms for specific times.

The popularity of alpacas, and the oh-so-soft fiber they produce, has been on the rise in recent years. Alpacas produce one of the world’s finest natural fibers, often noted as being as soft as cashmere and warmer, lighter and stronger than wool. Alpaca fiber comes in a variety of colors, and is clipped from the animal without causing injury.

Alpacas were once considered a treasure of the ancient Incan civilization and played a central role in the Incan culture, located in the mountains of South America. Alpacas were only first imported to the United States in 1984, and are now being successfully raised and enjoyed throughout North America.

Alpacas are gentle and easy-to-handle animals, requiring minimal fencing and space. Adult alpacas grow to about 3 feet tall, generally weighing between 100 and 200 pounds, and live about 20 years. Of course, there’s much more to learn about these wonderful animals!

A Slice of Heaven Alpacas & Simply Natural Alpaca Gift Shop, located at 11144 Pope Rd. in Randolph, boasts a variety of alpaca products, as well as alpacas for sale and sires for breeding. For more information, call (716) 358-5242.

Nearby is Mager Mountain Alpacas, located at 69 Mountain View Dr. in Little Valley. Visitors can see the new alpaca babies, browse the So Soft Gift Shop and see demonstrations. For more information, visit www.magermountainalpacas.com.

Sugartown Farms Alpacas is located at 6277 Sugartown Rd. in Ellicottville. Their retail store offers sweaters, hats, gloves, teddy bears and more. For more information, visit www.sugartownfarms.com.

VanDyke’s Alpaca Ranch is located at 5500 Howe Hill Rd. in Great Valley, and is home to alpacas and llamas, as well as a fully stock gift shop. For more information, visit www.vandykesalpacaranch.com.

BearKat Alpacas, located at 4685 Route 98 in Humphrey, offers a gift shop with socks, scarves, blankets, slippers, gloves and more. For more information, visit www.bearkatalpacas.com.

On Saturday, Sept. 27, the WNY Fiber Festival will be held at Emery Park’s Ski Lodge in South Wales (located on Emery Road, just off Route 16.) The Fiber Festival, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., will offer demonstrations from local guilds, including spinners, weavers, knitters, quilters, rug punching and lace makers. Admission is $5, free for children under 10. For more information, visit www.wnyfiberartsfestival.com.

Celebrate National Alpaca Farm Days with a scenic drive along the Alpaca Adventure Trail. Besides seeing some beautiful scenery along the way, learn something new about alpacas and the fiber they produce, and support these local farms while starting on your holiday shopping. A country road trip that combines animals, education, shopping and fun? Don’t miss it!

For more information, visit www.nationalalpacafarmdays.com.

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