randolphBy Mary Heyl

Looking for a great way to spend time with your family off the slopes this weekend? Head to Randolph, just twenty minutes away, where you can explore an alpaca farm, hit some great snowmobiling trails and even plan a special weekend with your daughter or granddaughter just in time for Valentine’s Day!

This weekend, make plans to visit A Slice of Heaven Alpaca Farm located at 11144 Pope Road in Randolph. Owners Mike and Sue Bean bought their first alpaca in 2008 and boarded her at a nearby alpaca farm in Little Valley. In October 2011, the Beans opened their own alpaca farm and have since grown their family of alpacas to 29.

Alpacas are prized for their fleece, whose softness is renowned for being hypoallergenic – it does not contain lanolin, which is a natural oil found in sheep’s wool that traps allergens. Additionally, alpaca fleece can be dyed, although the 22 natural colors of the fleece are especially beautiful; gray fleece is highly sought after, as gray alpacas are difficult to breed.

During your visit, you can meet the beautiful animals and feel their enticing fleece yourself! Alpacas are gentle animals that are shy but generally receptive to petting. The alpacas are especially fleecy this time of year, as they aren’t shorn until May, when their fleece is sent to be cleaned and processed. Knitters and crocheters will be delighted to find a beautiful selection of 100% alpaca yarn at Simply Natural, the alpaca farm’s gift shop. Inside, Sue is happy to show visitors how fleece is made into yarn with her drop spindle and spinning wheel, which she welcomes visitors to try! The shop also offers a wide variety of alpaca clothing, accessories and gift items.

Everyone knows about Cattaraugus County’s excellent snowmobiling trails, and a great place to start is in Randolph, where trails branch off into three different townships: Conewango, Napoli, and Coldspring. To download a map of the Cattaraugus County snowmobile trails, visit http://enchantedmountains.com/downloads/map/snowmobile-trails-map.  For an updated report of Randolph’s trail conditions, visit Randolph’s snowmobiling club on Facebook at Elibomwons Snowmobile Club.

Snowmobilers will be delighted to find that there are some great opportunities to recharge in Randolph along the way. Be sure to stop at Pete’s Place located at 97 Main Street, a spot that has long been a favorite of two well-known snowmobilers: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly. Pete’s has the biggest, freshest burgers in the area, and if you’re there on a Friday, be sure to try Pete’s homemade chicken fingers or fish fry, which are made with real, fresh chicken and fish – no frozen, processed items here!

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, the Randolph Area Community Development Corporation is hosting a brand new event on Saturday, Feb. 7, called “My Doll and Me: A Valentine Tea.”

Held at the Randolph Free Library at 26 Jamestown St., this event is a great way to spend time with your daughter or granddaughter and her doll, including the popular American Girl dolls. Enjoy tea and goodies, plus games, crafts and a raffle to win the American Girl doll of your choice! Choose from two seatings: 12-2 p.m. or 3-5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for girls and their dolls, with proceeds going toward future community projects of the Randolph Development Corporation. Call 720-1278 to reserve your seat for this special day!