There’s a holiday for almost everything these days - and weeks, and months, too, depending on the occasion. September, for example, is National Chicken Month, Mold Awareness Month, Be Kind to Editors & Writers Month (Indy readers: please take special note of this one), Metaphysical Awareness Month, and National Potato Month, among many, many others.
One of the more obscure national holidays, however, is getting some special attention on Saturday, September 27. Canzelle Alpacas, an alpaca farm in Carpinteria, is celebrating National Alpaca Day with a free open house and celebration of everything relating to this somewhat obscure fuzzy quadruped.
Although they’re close relatives of llamas, which are known for their ill-temper and unfriendliness (and who also have their own National Day in December), alpacas are some of the sweetest and most gentle creatures around. Not only are they incredibly cute, they’re also good pets and pleasant companions. Carol-Anne Lonson founded Canzelle Alpacas in 1999 with her mother, who is now 83 and, according to Lonson, “still very involved in birthing and showing the alpacas!” The two of them are incredibly enthusiastic about the animals they care for and lucky enough to make a living doing something they love.
And making a living from alpacas, strange as it sounds, is a pretty good proposition. Like cashmere, alpaca fiber is soft, warm, and durable, and can be knitted or woven into any type of fabric. Unlike wool, however, fabric made from alpaca fiber - which is structurally more similar to hair than it is to fur - is hypoallergenic, ideal for consumers allergic to wool. With 22 natural fiber colors available, dye-sensitive wearers can also have a variety of alpaca clothing without sacrificing color.
Native to South America, particularly Peru, Bolivia, and Chile, alpacas have been raised for their fiber for thousands of years. Only in the last several years have alpacas begun to catch in on the United States, with farms such as Canzelle investing in the industry. According to alpaca.com, there are currently about 17,000 alpacas in the country - just enough, apparently, to justify the institution of a National Alpaca Day.
With the price of gas, some Santa Barbarans may balk at the idea of driving out to Carpinteria to look at alpacas. The open house, however, is a great activity for kids, as the alpacas are adorable, friendly, and non-threateningly small - an adult alpaca weighs only 110-170 pounds and is only about three feet tall at the shoulder. Any adults interested in crafts, fabrics, or completely organic and green industry will also get a kick out of the event. Last but not least, Canzelle is a beautiful place to visit, 20 acres of oak-forested hills with a view of the Santa Barbara Channel - just as good as a park, and with more to see.
Besides, which one sounds like more fun, Mold Awareness Month or National Alpaca Day?
National Alpaca Day is Saturday, September 27. For more information on the Canzelle Alpacas open house, call 684-2021 or visit canzelle.com. See nationalalpacafarmdays.com to locate alpaca farms.