If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting an alpaca, you’ve probably had the desire to pet the congenial, cuddly cousin of the llama. This month, you’ll be able to do just that at the 2017 National Alpaca Show (NAS). The convention, which will be held at the National Western Complex from March 17–19, invites alpaca enthusiasts to visit with and learn about the domestic herd animals, from the clothing their fleece weaves to the herbivore’s instinctual behavior.
More than just an opportunity to visit with bright-eyed alpacas—of which they’ll be around 600—the show presents industry opportunities for local alpaca ranchers, breeders, and owners. “It gives our farms a chance to compete with the best alpacas in the country and see how their breeding programs stack up against other breeding programs,” says Larry Zierer, NAS barn manager and owner of LaZy B Acres Alpacas in Bennett, Colorado. “We can talk with other farms and possibly bring different types of breeding pools into our breeding programs as well.”
The Alpaca Owners Association (AOA), which runs the event, deals with everything from pedigree registry and DNA tracking to competition training programs and more. This year, the show will also feature a competition comprising more than 75 ranches from 25 states. Colorado, which has the fourth highest number of registered alpacas in the country, will be well represented at the convention, with more than 50 local ranches in attendance.
Visitors should plan to see plenty of fleece products. Alpacas have some of the softest fibers you can get from an animal, according to Zierer, and their coat’s softness, durability and natural insulating qualities make it ideal for certain clothing items like scarves and suits. Alpaca fleece is also naturally hypoallergenic and wrinkle resistant. One alpaca—of which there are more than 250,000 registered in the U.S.—can produce anywhere from five to 10 pounds of fleece in one sheering, which happens about every 12 to 18 months.
On the edge of your seat? Learn more fun alpaca facts at of the show’s many free educational seminars. But don’t you dare leave without taking at least one alpaca selfie.
If you go: The National Alpaca show takes place Friday and Saturday, March 17–18, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, March 19, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; National Western Complex, 4655 Humboldt St. The event is free for attendees.