Any ideas what it was?
It was an "Alpaca Extravaganza".
Of course the little one loved it...but she was quite confused. "Sheep!" she squealed. Followed shortly by "Dog!" and, at one point, "Horse!". Honestly, she couldn't be more right. One touch of the exceptionally soft, pillowy, light-yet-dense fur and you want nothing more than for every Alpaca to be miniaturized and sleep at the foot of your bed - your own personal little sheep-dog-horse.
Having not really given the whole thing much thought I had no idea there were two distinct breeds of Alpacas: Suri and Huacaya (pronounced Wah kai ya). Huacaya is what you see above, whereas Suri's have a more "dredlocked" appearance and are more rare.
The Suri has fur that grows parallel to their body, whereas a Huacaya's fur grows perpendicular to their body. Only about 5% of the Alpaca population is of the Suri variety and their fibers are highly sought after.
Personally, it was all so soft I could barely feel it so I don't think I'm too discerning when it comes to Alpaca fiber.
Prizewinning Huacaya Alpacas in the ring
And while it makes perfect sense, I really never thought of Alpaca competitions either, but they are much like dog or other animal husbandry competitions. Shape, form, fitness, etc are all taken into account.
My grandfather was a huge fan of alpaca fibers and clothing. He wore, almost exclusively, Alpaca fiber sweaters - I think for a few reasons:
1) Alpaca fiber is hypoallergenic
2) Alpaca fiber is incredibly lightweight but very warm
3) Alpaca fiber is sustainable and eco-friendly for the most part
4) Alpaca fiber is stinkin' soft as all get out.
When my daughter was very young we had a purple Alpaca sweater in the house - when she was inconsolable you could slip on the sweater, swaddle her up, settle in to the rocking chair and almost invariably she would settle a bit. Speaking of...where is that sweater...
Certainly a fun, entertaining and educational experience - we wouldn't hesitate to go again. Though we might think twice before letting a toddler catch a peek of the world's smallest and softest teddy bear ever created (with a hefty $65 price tag). It almost made me want to take up knitting again (until I realized I already gave everyone I know a scarf and there ends my knitting ability).
Oh - and just for the record - Alpacas and Llamas are related but they are not the same. But, just because it made him laugh, though they are of no relation, in honor of my grandfather I give you:
By Ogden Nash
The one-l lama,
He's a priest.
The two-l llama,
He's a beast.
And I will bet
A silk pajama
There isn't any
*The author's attention has been called to a type of conflagration known as a three-alarmer. Pooh.