Plan on attending the 20th Annual Estes Park Alpaca Market this Labor Day weekend, August 31st and September 1st at the Estes Park Events Complex. This will be a great opportunity to see alpacas up close and personal and to shop a wide variety of alpaca products. The event is free to the public and there is plenty of parking available at the Events Complex or you can catch the shuttle from the Visitor Center in downtown Estes Park. Alpacas are member of the camelid family, closely related to llamas and camels. Alpacas have been domesticated for over 5,000 years and are one of the oldest domesticated livestock species in the world. They were first imported as livestock into the United states in 1983. There are now approximately 400,000 alpacas in the country, with well over 200 ranches in the state of Colorado alone. Alpacas are an environmentally friendly livestock, much easier on pasture than other animals and are also much more efficient. You will not find an easier livestock species to raise on small acreage. Alpacas are shorn once a year to harvest their incredibly soft fiber, normally in late April through mid June here in Colorado. Alpacas will live an estimated 20 years, with some living as old as 28 years. The males are larger than the females, on average. Gestation length for the female alpaca is approximately 342 days and the females are induced ovulators. Twins are extremely rare, as the moms do not have enough milk to support twins. An alpaca will shear, on average, five to seven pounds of fiber each year. An adult alpaca weighs on average 150 pounds and stands three feet high at the backline. They eat 2% of the body weight a day, or about three pounds of hay. Alpacas come in 22 natural colors, their fiber is more durable and more insulating than sheep’s wool and is as fine as cashmere. The fiber can be processed into any number of high end garments, from scarfs, hats, shawls, blankets, gloves and socks. Even the coarser fiber on the legs and belly of the alpaca is usable for rugs, shoe insoles or felt.
There will be a number of ranches at the event with their alpacas, more than willing to answer all your questions about raising these wonderful animals. All these ranches have been raising alpacas for more than ten years, and the depth of experience means they have seen almost everything. If you have any interest in getting into the business of raising alpacas, these farms would be great mentors to get you started. There will be demonstrations (spinning, felting, weaving, etc.) during the event to show you how to use this exquisite fiber. There will also be a large number of vendors at the event selling every imaginable alpaca product from raw fleeces to roving to yarns to a large variety of hand crafted and commercial finished products. Some of our vendors are true artisans making one of a kind garments that you will not find anywhere else. There will be drawings throughout both days for door prizes (must be present to win) so plan on stopping by and register at the welcome desk.
The Alpaca Market will be open Saturday, August 31st from 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and on Sunday, September 1st from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
If you have any questions, please contact Larry or Becky Zierer at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (303) 475-4793. The address for the market is Estes Park Event Complex, 1125 Rooftop Way, Estes Park.