Northeast Alpacas Come to NYS Fairgrounds for Annual Showcase

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Randy Strong of K-Ran Alpacas has been involved in fundraising for alpacas for 17 years as a volunteer and auctioneer. Alpaca’s involvement has brought a great sense of community and passion to his family and his life, he said.

“People are always there to help each other out, and we’re all one family,” Strong said. “The alpaca community is above and beyond anything else.”

The potent smell of hay and farm animals filled the air at the New York State Fairgrounds this weekend for the New England Alpaca Owners & Breeders Association Alpaca Show. The social and gentle animals were on their best behavior, ready to compete in the event’s main competition, when judges ranked each alpaca on categories such as their coat and general appearance. The show also offered an abundance of trinkets, merchandise, such as small stuffed alpacas, and alpaca-themed interior decor.

Jeffrey Jorritsma, owner of Autumn Mist Alpaca Farm and president of the Empire Alpaca Association, has been competing for 16 years.

“As the years go by it gets harder and harder to get to the top, but we just won the championship on the walking fleece,” Jorritsma said.

Walking fleece, a competition category, judges how the alpaca’s outer coat moves as it walks. Judges are looking for a complete fleece that will be the most useful in terms of reproduction and longevity.

Animals are judged on 100 points, Jorritsma said. Half of the points come from the confirmation of the animals – the way they stand, the width, the depth and all the proportions of the animal. The other half is based on the fiber, or fleece – the fineness, density and shape of each fiber.

Barb Sodums, of Trumansburg, New York, has looked forward to this show every year since 2005 and is proud of her friendly, “excellent” alpacas.

“We are basically trying to improve the quality of the alpacas. Every time we breed, (it’s) for a baby that’s better than its parents,” Sodums said.

The alpacas seemed to have brought together a community of people in one place, which doesn’t happen often, to bond over their shared love of animals. For Sodmus, this is the most important: the “comradeship” shared by all farmers and breeders.

“We are all friends and we support and help each other even though we are competitors, which makes the industry so special,” Sodmus said.

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