By Mary Heyl
Enjoy the first full weekend of autumn by exploring local alpaca farms during National Alpaca Farm Days on Saturday, Sept. 23 and Sunday, Sept. 24! Always held during the last weekend in September, National Alpaca Farm Days is a fun annual event that invites the public to learn about these beautiful, versatile animals that have created a remarkable surge in the agribusiness industry over the past two decades.
If you think you know all there is to know about alpacas, think again! Although it’s well-known that alpaca fiber is very warm and hypoallergenic (it doesn’t have wool’s lanolin, which is an allergen to some), did you know that it’s also naturally flame resistant? Even better, alpaca fiber is also water resistant: it can wick away moisture, which makes it great for close fitting garments, like socks, and accessories that get exposed to rain and snow, like hats and scarves!
Although alpaca farms have come into vogue in just the past couple of decades, raising alpacas for their fleece is hardly a new business. Alpacas were domesticated by Incas more than 6,000 years ago because of their luxuriously soft fleece. Because of its versatility and excellent quality, alpaca fiber was reserved primarily for the garments of the upper echelon of ancient Incan society.
Fortunately, these days, anyone (royalty or not!) can enjoy the warmth and beauty of alpaca fiber, as it is incorporated in many every day garments that are available at local alpaca farms. Learn all about how these gentle animals are raised and what it takes to make fleece into fabric during National Alpaca Farm Days at any one of Cattaraugus County’s alpaca farms:
A Slice of Heaven Alpaca Farm and their Simply Natural Alpaca Gift Shop are located at 11144 Pope Road in Randolph. Meet owners Mike and Sue Bean, who will give you a tour through their barns to meet the herd! Enter to win an alpaca fleece teddy bear, alpaca slippers and an alpaca blanket. A Slice of Heaven Alpacas will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and all weekend they will be selling chili, cider, and donuts to raise money for Randolph’s Community Cupboard.
Cozy Cabin Alpaca Farm, located at 9254 Route 353 in Gowanda, is eagerly anticipating National Alpaca Farm Days this weekend! Explore Cozy Cabin Alpaca Farm’s gift shop and enjoy morning and afternoon refreshments. Don’t forget to enter Cozy Cabin’s raffles, and enjoy a hayride on their scenic farm! Cozy Cabin Alpaca Farm will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Mager Mountain Alpacas is located at 69 Mountain View Drive in Little Valley. Owners Paul and Sue Mager opened one of the first alpaca farms in the area: meet their herd of over 20 alpacas and explore their So Soft Gift Shop throughout the weekend. Mager Mountain Alpacas will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Sugartown Farms is located at 6277 Sugartown Road in Ellicottville. Timm and Helen Herman, owners of Sugartown Farms, invite visitors to meet their herd of over 50 alpacas, which will be available for viewing and petting throughout the weekend. Interested in starting an alpaca farm? Herd members are available for sale! Remember to visit their large gift shop and start your Christmas shopping now.
This weekend is the perfect time to learn all about the sweet, curious animal known as the alpaca during National Alpaca Farm Days. Find out what makes alpacas hum, what “pronking” means, and even how alpacas use a “litter box”! For more information about this fun nation-wide event, visit www.NationalAlpacaFarmDays.com.