What’s Going On? — Info from the Board
AOA NATIONAL FLEECE CONFERENCE 2017
AOA’s third National Fleece Conference, held last month in Sacramento, California, drew almost 600 fleece entries and the spin-off competition attracted almost 200 entries. This strength of entries bodes well for our fiber industry as more alpaca farms are using the national fleece competition to help evaluate their programs, determine the potential for commercial and cottage processing of their fiber production, and assess the market for their alpaca fiber in textile production.
Our conference keynote speaker, Celeste Malvar-Stewart, a designer who creates high-end fashion by hand-felting alpaca fiber onto silk fabric, presented a host of ideas as to how alpaca farms can link with designers for awareness and creation of opportunities to move alpaca fiber into the mainstream of fashion design. She also suggested that the alpaca industry should not just view itself as a supplier of textile fiber waiting to be found, but that we should be actively engaged in speaking to the fabric design world about the properties and uses of alpaca. You can enjoy Ms. Malvar-Stewart’s presentation on the AOA website.
This year’s Student Design Competition had 76 final entries for the National Fleece Conference. The competition was supported by generous donations of 40,000 yards of yarn, 20 pounds of roving, and 50 yards of fabric that enabled more than 400 students in design schools across North America to work with alpaca. Cash donations provided scholarship and travel funds for the finalists to attend the National Fleece Conference.
The National Fleece Conference sponsor, Epic Alpacas, was a fantastic partner. Casey and Steve Aitchison not only provided financial support for the conference, but they also gave countless hours of volunteer time in promoting this event in California and nationally, as well as on-site in Sacramento.
A tip of the hat goes to all placement winners and thanks to all members that participated in fleece, cottage fleeces, spin-off, and skein entries, and fiber arts. Fleece show results are posted on the AOA website at: www.alpacainfo.com/show/detail/2017-aoa-national-fleece-show
2018 FLEECE EVENT
Your AOA board is looking ahead. Based on (1) feedback after last year’s Fleece Conference, (2) member input from our survey about desired future fiber events, (3) recommendations from the Fiber and Fiber Products Committee, and (4) our most recent experience in California, we are already looking to redefine the annual fleece show experience for you. It is likely to be more of a fiber festival that is open to the public and artisans with shopping areas. We’re envisioning more hands-on fiber arts workshops, educational classes and of course the annual fleece show competition. We are sourcing venues that would provide the best environment for our needs.
2017-2018 AOA ADMINISTRATION
The National Fleece Conference also was the site of the annual meeting of the Board of Directors and its members.
At the annual meeting, newly-elected directors Patty Hasselbring and Jeff Williamson were welcomed to the board, as was Andy Merriwether, who was re-elected for another 3-year term.
Officers elected for the 2017-2018 year were: Don Greene as president, Mike Vigus as vice president, Jeff Williamson as secretary, and Joe Crocco as treasurer.
Out-going Director and President Norm Johnson was appointed as immediate past president to serve in an advisory capacity to the board. He also will serve on the Fiber and Fiber Products Committee and the US Alpaca Fiber Council.
FINANCIAL STABILITY OF THE ASSOCIATION
At mid-year, AOA’s income and expenses were on target against the year’s budget, and our investment portfolio is being adjusted to deliver more return to the association. However, membership income is down at mid-year. Membership is where every AOA member can help. The association will be redoubling its efforts to recruit members and to attract lost members back to our ranks. Your communication with clients, friends, prospects and former members will help us to rebuild the strength of our national association.
WHAT’S IN STORE FOR MEMBERS?
We are committed to doing more marketing and advertising on your behalf to support fiber and fiber products, as well as alpacas as an investment. The “Alpacas: Feel the Difference” advertising in USA Today was an important initial message that we plan to use in other media and online. It is available on AOA’s website for you to use in your own marketing and advertisings, as well as on your farm’s website.
Additionally, AOA has invested in a promotional marketing program that will be televised this fall on American Farmer, which airs exclusively on RFD-TV that reaches 60 million households. On-farm filming has been completed with Sue King at Big Timber Alpacas and Mary Jaffe at Skyline Alpacas, and included interviews with Jude Anderson with Pucara International and Stacie Chavez with Imperial Yarn Company about new advances being made in our industry. Executive Director Bud Synhorst represented AOA in the filming. The air date will be announced in as AlpacaGram once known.
We are also looking to improve the way that members interface with our website. Our aim is to provide a more user-friendly platform for many of our routine tasks, which would result in a more navigable website. Lots of thinking will go into this, and we welcome hearing from you.
NATIONAL ALPACA FARM DAYS (NAFD)
Our national celebration of Alpaca Farm Days is set for September 23-24, and we hope that you all will be opening your farms, stores, and arms to welcome your community to our world of alpaca. By sharing your experiences in our industry and the reasons that you raise alpacas, you will help to educate the public about our livestock. NAFD is a great opportunity for you to sell alpacas, alpaca products and the alpaca way of life.
Make sure that you have materials to support your open farms by contacting the AOA staff who can help you with your planning. Also, Cindy Berman-Morrow, AOA’s media specialist, is available to advise you on maximizing your local media coverage of your event. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy these final days of summer and your upcoming Alpaca Farm Days. The fall show season will be upon us before you know it.
Your Board of Directors