By Alicia Dziak
If you’re up for a little adventure this weekend, you won’t want to miss the many wonderful stops along the Alpaca Adventure Trail, part of this weekend’s National Alpaca Farm Days, where alpaca farms across the country will welcome visitors of all ages to meet alpacas and learn about the alpaca lifestyle.
According to the website for the Alpacas Owners and Breeders Association, “Alpacas were a cherished treasure of the ancient Incan civilization and played a central role in the Incan culture that was located on the high Andean Plateau and mountains of South America. Alpacas were 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, require minimal fencing, and can be pastured at 5–10 per acre. Adult alpacas are about 36 inches tall, generally weigh between 100–200 pounds and live about 20 years.
The popularity of alpacas has soared in recent years due to the fiber they produce.
Alpacainfo.com states, “Alpacas produce one of the world’s finest and most luxurious natural fibers. It is clipped from the animal without causing it injury. Soft as cashmere and warmer, lighter and stronger than wool, it comes in more colors than any other fiber producing animal (approximately 22 basic colors with many variations and blends).This cashmere-like fleece, once reserved for Incan royalty, is now enjoyed by spinners and weavers around the world.”
Lucky for Western New Yorkers, we have a variety of alpaca farms within short driving distance, and together, these farms are part of the new Alpaca Adventure Trail™, created by the Ellicottville Times.
Beginning in Bradford, Pa., trail visitors will enjoy Kendall Creek Farms Alpacas, located at 41 Looker Trail. Kendall Creek Farms is one of the oldest alpaca ranches in Pennsylvania and boasts a Yarn Barn and Gift Shop offering a variety of alpaca products. This weekend, they will open their doors both days from 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Traveling northwest to Randolph, visitors can head to Ladysong Farm, located at 2473 Bunker Hill. This Saturday, they will offer spinning and weaving demonstrations, as well as carding, yarn painting and hand shearing demonstrations both days. The farm store will be open and free refreshments will be available during this weekend’s festivities, 9 a.m. –6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
A short distance away is A Slice of Heaven Alpacas & Simply Natural Alpaca Gift Shop, located at 11144 Pope Rd. in Randolph, boasting a variety of alpaca products, as well as alpacas for sale and sires for breeding. This weekend, they will be open from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. both days.
Continuing on toward Little Valley, trail visitors will come across Cardinal Acre Alpacas, located at 9759 Manley Hill Rd/ in Napoli. (See their ad on page 7 for detailed driving directions.) Cardinal Acre will be open 9 a.m. –6 p.m. both days this weekend, offering a wide selection of gifts in their farm store and free refreshments.
Nearby is Mager Mountain Alpacas, located at 69 Mountain View Dr. in Little Valley, which will be open from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Mager Mountain visitors are welcome to see the new alpaca babies, called crias, browse the So Soft Gift Shop, and see hand spinning demonstrations, as well as enjoy the “alpaca kissing booth” where visitors get a chance to have their picture taken with an alpaca.
Heading east toward Ellicottville, visitors can stop at Sugartown Farms Alpacas, at 6277 Sugartown Rd. in Ellicottville. Their retail store offers sweaters, hats, gloves, teddy bears and more, and will be open this weekend 10 a.m.–5 p.m. each day and will be serving refreshments. You can also “meet and greet” an alpaca, as well as take a farm tour or a farm store tour! They had 10 cria born this year.
Just south is VanDyke’s Alpaca Ranch, located at 5500 Howe Hill Rd. in Great Valley. This weekend, they will be open from 9 a.m.–6 p.m. both days. Guests can visit with three baby alpacas and one baby llama and will enjoy the many gifts for sale in the store.
A short drive east will bring visitors to BearKat Alpacas, located at 4685 Route 98 in Humphrey. BearKat Alpacas’ gift shop offers socks, scarves, blankets, slippers, gloves and more. This weekend they will be open both days from 10 a.m.–6 p.m., and will be serving hot cider, coffee, tea, and Timbits®. Amish produce and bakery vendors have been invited for Saturday.
Heading north from Humphrey, the WNY Fiber Festival will be in full swing at Emery Park’s Ski Lodge in South Wales. (Take Route 16 north, then go left on Emery Road.) The Fiber Festival, open from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. on Saturday, will offer hands-on activities, demonstrations and numerous vendors.
Celebrate National Alpaca Farm Days with a beautiful fall drive along the Alpaca Adventure Trail™. Besides seeing some beautiful scenery along the way, expect to learn a lot about alpacas and the fiber they produce, and support these local farmers, while getting a jumpstart on your holiday shopping.
For more information, visit www.nationalalpacafarmdays.com and check out the map on page 7.