Inaugural North Island Colourbration Show – Jenny Durno, NZ
The first thing that occurred to visitors of the Alpaca Section of the Waikato Show, Claudelands in May 2012 was how attractive this area was. When you walked in from the ‘show’ side, fresh from the Antique Halls and the sideshows, you were treated to an attractive array of displayed fleeces on one side, all arranged in colour order and festooned with ribbons. The sought after broad sashes gaily proclaimed the best, the Supremes and Champions of the show, but even the place ribbons added to the overall impression that someone cared and was proud of this part of the show. You only had to pause for a moment to see people from the public attracted to the baskets of ‘feel me’ fleeces, Huacaya and Suri and then look up and around to appreciate the wealth of beautiful colours in front of them.
On the other side were the equally well set out trade stands, with every imaginable use of alpaca celebrated and displayed to great advantage. Gorgeous clothes, stylish hats and shawls, funny or funky ornaments and jewellery; the creative people in the alpaca industry proved that they can provide a wide range of viable products in a sophisticated and business-like retail environment.
Smack in the middle as you came in was a busy looking ring with intriguing items ranged around – the obstacle course. Obstacle course! Cool! When do we see the alpacas do this? Soon – do you want to lead an alpaca around yourself? Wow! And babies! The name-the-cria competition attracted a crowd several people deep and some excited participants had to be reminded that this little creature was only a few days old. Please don’t rattle the cage!
If visitors could get past the appeal of the Mums and crias they could sit for a while and watch the more serious business of judging. With Huacaya in one ring and Suri in the other, the differences were very clear to anyone and many members found themselves hosting impromptu lessons on the attributes of one type of alpaca over another. We were very proud of our judges and their comprehensive explanations of why they were placing one animal over another; great for us as breeders as always, but very informative for the general public who had just learned that they were not looking at llamas.
But we were only half way around the hall. The pens themselves were an attraction at this show – bright branding, high branches of greenery, more ribbons proclaiming the success of the cool customers nestled in their clean straw. With plenty of clean pathway between the rows of pens we saw whole families with pushchairs becoming well acquainted with mature or young, white or coloured Huacaya and Suri. Comparing big brown eyes to fleece covered faces, cute little ones nosing in the chaff together or big imperious males haughtily checking the bigger picture, people of all walks of life were smilingly choosing their favourites.
This was an attractive show all right. Well conceived, well put together and well attended by the very people it was designed for. It was a credit to its organizers, the participants and the Alpaca Association. It deserves its place on the busy show calendar.