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Alpaca Fashion Bazaar draws the devoted and the curious

November 08, 2005|by ALICIA NOTARIANNI

alician@herald-mail.com

SMITHSBURG - Attendees of the Alpaca Holiday Fashion Bazaar seemed to be in a pleasing predicament - they didn't know where to look first.

Surrounded by vast, colorful, tree-covered hillsides, the view from Annapaca Farm near Smithsburg was an indulgence of its own. Then there were the doe-eyed, long-necked, woolly creatures humming in the meadows.

The Alpaca Shop was bursting with fine alpaca garments and products, along with raw fleece, rovings and yarn. The doors of the strapping bank barn were open, acting, in effect, as a frame for another view of the mountains.

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And, oh yes, there in the barn were vendors serving up heaps of locally crafted wares from wheel-thrown stoneware to unique jewelry pieces, including photo charms and handmade lampwork bead designs.

Bert and Ann Kramer, owners of Annapaca Farm and the Alpaca Shop, said they conceived the Saturday, Nov. 5, fashion bazaar as a promotional effort.

"Our objectives included introducing alpacas and alpaca wool into the local community," Ann Kramer said. "It's so good, so special, and most people haven't heard of it."

Kramer said alpacas - a relative of the llama - are native to South America and have only been imported to the United States for about 20 years.

Kim Caruso, owner and operator of Antietam Alpaca Company in Hagerstown, was a vendor at the bazaar. Caruso said while she thinks alpacas are cute, she admires them, too, for the resiliency of their fleece, or alpaca wool.

"It's soft like cashmere and smooth like silk. It's three times stronger than cashmere, warmer than wool, and breathable," Caruso said.

Mary Smith, for one, did not need to be sold on alpaca wool products. Smith, 36, of Hagerstown, said she already owns alpaca wool sweaters and gloves, and she had her sights set on a new red sweater.

"They are quality things that last," Smith said. "They're warm without the weight."

Emilie Clark of Hagerstown said she had one alpaca wool sweater, and she had seen the animals at a zoo and became intrigued.

"I came here out of curiosity. (Alpacas) are exquisite animals and their textiles are wonderful," Clark said.

Emily Holliday, 15, of Smithsburg, said she leased Huckleberrie, a 5-year-old alpaca owned by the Kramers, for several years as part of a 4-H project. Holliday went to the bazaar Saturday and purchased some chocolate brown yarn spun from Huckleberrie's fleece.

"I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it yet," Emily Holliday said, though her mother, Tracy Holliday, noted that Emily has done some knitting and weaving in the past.

Michael Price McIntyre, owner of Fire Robin Farm in Hagerstown, crafted items at his potter's wheel in between selling his wares at the bazaar. He spoke to the endearing qualities of alpacas.

"My wife visited an alpaca farm a couple of years ago and she fell in love," McIntyre said. "Now she has a few of her own."

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