I was speeding down 49 on my way hom from Clines when I was met by an opportunity. Now, I’d passed this way en route, but at that time I thought I had a time constraint on my antique shopping so I’d be able to have a phone meeting with Mary (because we’re business-y like that) but the meeting had been cancelled when she went to the huge yard sale and I couldn’t drag myself away from all the junk in Mt. Pleasant. So here I am, no deadlines to meet, nothing to do. It’s just me, the open road, and life-size cutouts of Alpacas lining the highway saying things like “CAROLINA ALPACA CELEBRATION” and “PUBLIC WELCOME.” Who wouldn’t stop? I knew I’d forgotten my damn camera, so I pulled in, followed the crowds (and partially-eaten hay) to a celebration. of. ALPACAS. Even if I couldn’t take pictures, I was going to figure out what all the fuss was about. I was greeted by what must have been hundreds of Alpacas lined up in cages with banners and ribbons like it’s the AKC and everyone wants to be best in show.
Alpacas are fucking adorable. Goofy, but adorable.
So, back in my car, purchased an instant camera from the BP, and this is what I managed to capture. I have to admit, I was so giddy about all the goofy sheep-camel-llama-ewok creatures that I couldn’t pay attention to lights, cameras, or obtaining much variation in my images. I have mostly shocked, fuzzy faces staring into what they must think is the strangest carrot they’ve ever seen. I didn’t learn much about the creatures then, I’ve done some research since, but I can tell you that some Alpacas like to dance with their head and hum. I mistook this as something violent or indicative of an imminent spit attack, but it just means that they’re happy. Scary happy.
What I loved most about the celebration (which, my GOD, can’t they just call it a convention or a show? If there is a celebration there better be glitter, and I saw NO GLITTER!) was the people. There were the Alpaca farmers who were showing their most prized Alpacas, I watched one wrestle an Alpaca from her cage like you might deal with a donkey or an insolent three-year-old and kept screaming “Come on Jazz!” to the poor animal, and there are the fans, who I am most partial to. I overheard a little girl proclaiming “Oh, I just love Alpacas, they’re the greatest!” and I witnessed a woman walking up to a Suri Alpaca and had a full-blown conversation about her beauty and the crazy animal looked her dead in the eyes the whole time. These people were nuts.
If you’d like to know more about Alpacas or Alpaca farming you can visit the official site of the Carolina Alpaca Association and they also have an excellent video from the event. Oh, and see mroe images on our flickr account!