Alpaca Show March 29-30 will offer educational sessions

Kansas City, Missouri – The 11th annual Midwest Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association’s Invitational Alpaca Show will be held at the American Royal Hale Arena, 1701 American Royal Court, in Kansas City, Missouri, on March 29 and 30, 2014. Hundreds of alpacas will be highlighted in halter competitions, a fleece show, and fiber arts. Vendors will have unique alpaca products for sale. Admission is free to the public; public hours are Saturday 9 am to 5 pm and Sunday 9 am – 12 noon.

This year, visitors will have the opportunity to attend free educational sessions throughout the alpaca show. “Alpacas 101” will be held at 10 am Saturday, 2 pm Saturday, and again at 10 am Sunday. Visitors interested in attending one of these sessions should meet at the MOPACA Volunteer table in the arena area.

During the show lunch break on Saturday, a workshop on alpaca health and parasite management will be conducted in the Board Room on the second floor of Hale Arena. This session will be presented by Jennifer Lehr, DVM, with the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Alpaca owners and interested visitors are welcomed. There is no charge for attendance.

The alpaca show includes alpacas and alpaca breeders from across the country. Alpaca breeders will be set up to provide information about the animals, and will introduce visitors to their animals. Many will offer alpaca products made from the fiber of their animals.

Fiber demonstrations will show visitors how alpaca is taken from raw form to be made into luxurious yarns and garments. Hand spinners will demonstrate working with alpaca fiber, and finished products will demonstrate the beauty of alpaca fiber.

Vendors will be on hand with products made from alpaca. Products range from yarn to socks, hats, shawls and sweaters. Hand spinners and artists will find a large selection of alpaca fleece and yarn.

The MOPACA Invitational Alpaca Show offers an educational and entertaining experience for people of all ages.

Unlike most domestic animals, alpacas have never been wild. Their relationship with humans extends back more than 5,000 years. In fact, they may have been the world's first domestic animals.

Alpacas are quiet, gentle, and largely defenseless creatures. Instead of hooves, they have soft leathery pads covered by toenails. They have a hard palate rather than upper front teeth, so biting isn’t really much of an option either. The 5-foot fencing around most alpaca paddocks are much more about keeping stray dogs and coyotes out than keeping alpacas in.

Young alpacas may not be interested in retrieving toys, but they are playful. “Pronking” is the word given to the bouncing gallop that owners love to watch when the babies, “crias,” kick up their heels.

Alpacas live very lightly on the land. Their soft padded feet and their light weight mean that they don't tear up the ground. Since dung piles are cleaned up daily, there is a minimum of run-off from alpaca waste. Alpacas have 3-part stomachs that digest hay and grass very efficiently so they don't eat a great deal.

There are two breeds of alpacas, huacayas (pronounced wa-KAI-yaz) and suris (pronounced SUR-eez). Huacayas have the fluffy teddy bear appearance and are more common, comprising about 80% of the U.S. alpaca population. These beautiful animals’ fiber grows outward from the alpaca's body. The fiber is soft, strong, and generally crimpy throughout.

Suris comprise the remaining 20% of the U.S. alpaca population. These elegant animals are characterized by their draping locks. Fiber hangs down rather than looking fluffy as it does on huacayas. This fiber is slick and straight with no crimp and has a high degree of luster. At the microscopic level, the scales of the suri fiber are smooth edged and one directional, which gives it this slickness and very cool handle.

Since its introduction to the United States over 20 years ago, the alpaca industry has grown in popularity with farmers and retailers all over North America. Alpaca fleece is harvested without harming the animals to produce warm, luxurious apparel. Almost all the other US supplies of this kind of luxury fiber, like cashmere, are from foreign sources. There are only less than a million alpacas in North America. If they were all sheared at once, their fiber would keep a commercial mill busy for only a couple months. Because of this gap between supply and demand, the value of alpaca products is expected to hold constant for the foreseeable future.

MOPACA, the Midwest Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association, focuses on Missouri and the eight surrounding states as it works toward the growth of the alpaca industry. MOPACA provides a communication network for alpaca owners and breeders while sharing state-of-the art knowledge of husbandry techniques, fiber processing, and marketing strategies between its members and industry experts. MOPACA also strives, through its educational seminars, website, and annual alpaca show to promote public awareness of alpacas.

For more information and a schedule of events, go to www.mopaca.org.

CONTACT: Patty Hasselbring, Hasselbring’s Harmony Ranch 816-769-3939 patty@hasselbringsharmonyranch.com www.mopaca.org/mopaca-show

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