Timm and Helen Herman of Sugartown Farms in Ellicottville, N.Y., are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their alpaca farm business by attending the 2014 nationally certified Empire Alpaca Extravaganza. The show is drawing competitors from across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions to the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse on Oct. 25-26. Admission show and parking are free.
The Hermans own the nationally recognized black huacaya champion STF Jetson and the two-time Futurity Herd Sire of the Year Snowmass XXXtreme.
The 2014 Empire Alpaca Extravaganza show organizers are making a concerted effort to attract visitors interested in learning about how raising the finely fibered animals provides income and lifestyle opportunities.
To facilitate potential buyers and those interested in starting an alpaca enterprise, the Empire Alpaca Association will offer educational seminars on marketing, merchandising, fiber processing, and income opportunities with respected owners, breeders, and fiber artisans.
Alpaca breeders and owners will show their animals and fleeces and will have booths with value-added products and information about their farms and animals for sale or breeding rights. A parade of animals available for sale by private treaty will begin at 12:45 p.m. on Saturday. Interested buyers can place silent bids until noon on Sunday.
The two-day, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Empire Alpaca Extravaganza on Oct. 25 and Oct. 26, also includes a fashion show, fiber arts demonstrations, a fleece competition, and a new “Vendor Way” with everything from alpaca-specific farm supplies to yarn, batts, sheared fleeces, socks, sweaters, and handcrafted goods.
Youth activities at the show will include hands-on fiber crafts and demonstrations. The Sunday afternoon show schedule includes performance, obstacle and youth costume classes.
Alpacas, native to the South American Andes Mountain region, are raised for their luxurious and durable fiber that is highly prized by the garment industry, crafters and artisans, and people who prefer natural fibers but are allergic to wool.
The teddy bear-like Huacaya alpacas account for 99 percent of the alpaca population; Suri alpacas have silken fiber dreadlocks that grow up to 15 inches long.
American alpaca enterprises developed with the first animal imports into the U.S. in 1982. A business model that does not allow artificial insemination helps maintain animal breeding and sales values, which can be worth several thousand dollars.
Sixteen NY farms formed the Empire Alpaca Association/EAA in 2002 following the first Empire Alpaca Extravaganza show event. The association now has members ranging from small farms to some of the largest in the U.S. The EAA is the first affiliate of the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association to create a Code of Ethics. Find more information online at www.empirealpacaassociation.com/Show/.