Lebanon, TN — Since the United States first commercially imported alpacas in 1984, alpaca breeders have worked hard to produce offspring with the finest, softest, most lustrous fleece.
The Natural Fiber Extravaganza powered by Alpaca Owners Association has been cancelled this year due to concerns over COVID-19. However, the National Fleece Show will continue as planned July 9–11 at the Wilson County Exposition Center in Lebanon, Tennessee. This event is not open to the public.
The Alpaca Owners Association National Fleece Competition is the largest alpaca fleece show in the United States.
Fleeces entered are shorn from the prime blanket area only and skirted so that neck, belly and leg areas have been removed. They are sorted for competition by breed type (huacaya or suri), gender, age and color groups. The fleeces are assigned points using an absolute scoring system within each of the following characteristics: fineness and handle, uniformity of micron, length and color, character and density, absence of guard hair and impurities, as well as fleece weight.
Every entry in a class is placed according to the total score achieved, but only the top six fleeces in a class are awarded ribbons. Every entrant receives a written scorecard for each fleece entered in the show. This valuable feedback impacts breeding decisions made for improved characteristics in future generations as well as determining the end use and quality of products made from the processed fiber.
About Alpaca Fleece
Prized for its unique, silky feel, and superb “handle,” alpaca fleece is highly sought-after by both cottage-industry artists (hand spinners, knitters, weavers, etc.) as well as the commercial fashion industry.
One facet of alpaca fleece that makes it so much in vogue is its great variety of natural colors; pure white, several shades of fawn and brown, several shades of gray and true black — some 16 official colors with many other subtle shades and hues. White, light fawn, and light gray can be readily dyed, thus offering a rainbow of colors for the fleece artist. Alpaca fleece can also be readily combined with other fine fibers like merino wool, cashmere, mohair, silk, and angora to attain incredibly interesting blends.
For more information about the alpaca business, watch the industry’s video at www.alpacainfo.com/academy/alpaca-industry. Stay tuned for information about next year’s Natural Fiber Extravaganza at www.fiberextravaganza.com.