On Saturday, I bribed the Patient Partner to go to the Palmetto Alpaca Classic with me. How, you ask? Simple: lunch at Super Taco, so he could have a green chili burrito. His fav, but now that we don't live in Clemson, we don't get over there very often.
But I digress. I had mentioned the alpaca show? I had not yet been to a show at the T. Ed Garrison Livestock Arena, or, as we locals call it, the T. Ed. "Hey," the PP said, pointing to a guy in a cowboy hat driving an old-school Buick as we pulled into the parking lot, "Isn't that T. Ed over there?" I do not think that it was, but as I was bribing him, I did not say so.
On our way there, we tried to come up with what we would tell the alpaca farmers about why we were there. It turns out that we run an alpaca packing outdoor adventure company in the NC mountains, and we were there to find alpaca-specific harnesses, since the ones we had, designed for llamas, were too big for the alpacas and kept slipping, unless we added extra pillows for padding, and that got hot for the poor alpacas in the summertime. Then we thought maybe we were a French company, Alpine Alpacas, come to South Carolina, we would say in our outrageous accent, for the superior stock of alpacas.
Anyway, we got there right around lunchtime, so there was time to walk around the barn before the obstacle competition. If you are a knitter and have ever wondered why suri fleece is softer than huacaya, all you have to do is see them: the huacaya are fluffy and poofy, while the suri's hair lies closer and lanker and very shiny--like baby down or something.
It felt like a cool damp day to us, in our sweaters and raincoats and boots, but the alpacas were cooking in their full fleece (most of the alpacas will get shorn in the next few weeks, once the temperatures stabilize a bit). They loved the fans.
The obstacle competition was a like in a dog show, but really the alpacas weren't that into it. The contests happen by age class, with the littlest kids going first, then middle kids, and then an open division where adults try their hand. We think the best competitor may have been in the littlest kids' group--a little girl whose alpaca just seemed to trust her, do whatever she wanted (walk zigzagging between cones, step up on a wooden step--they mostly hated that--walk through a gate, step onto a tarp, run, get into a trailer). Granted, as the human competitors got older, they were expected to convince the alpacas to do more complicated things, like walk backwards, or raise a foot (presumably for toenail clipping). But seriously: this girl had mad skills.
Later there was an alpaca costume competition. We joked about whether the judge would give a big speech, justifying the awards. You know, like "The toucan costume got extra points because it so succeeded in transforming one animal into another" or "While the hippy costume was very festive and colorful, we do not believe that alpacas should be forced to wear pink berets," but then he actually did! It turns out the requirements for that contest have less to do with creativity or beauty or hilarity, and more to do with how many parts of the alpaca are adorned. The Native American costume did well because in addition to a blanket over its body and a feathered headdress on its neck, it had bells on its legs. I bet the girl who dressed up as Dorothy to go with her lion alpaca was pissed that she only came in fifth!