KINGMAN – Alpacas are cute and furry like a llama, but half the size and without the attitude, said Ron Nyberg owner of Southwest Alpaca Tours, which is having its 12th annual Alpaca Days this weekend.
The event is free to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, with demonstrations on spinning alpaca hair into yarn, a lady who does “felting” and more than 20 vendors and artisans.
Food vendors include Nathan’s Hot Dogs, and Desert Diamond Distillery will have a booth with flavored rum. Mohave Gemstoners will show off their rocks, and High Desert Astronomy Club will offer a look at solar flares and sunspots, along with a peek at Venus.
Nyberg puts on the event primarily to make the community aware of alpacas, and he expects 1,100 to 1,200 visitors over the three days.
He’s got 44 alpacas on his ranch, including a 2-week-old baby and 1-month-old baby.
“And they’re kid-friendly animals,” Nyberg said. “They don’t bite, they have no hoof and they don’t have top teeth. They’re from South America and they live above 10,000 feet, so they have no natural predators. Jaguars and pumas can’t deal with the thin air. That makes their temperament better than llamas.”
Alpaca fleece is considered a luxury fiber, softer than cashmere, Nyberg said. It’s fast-drying, odor-free and hypoallergenic. The farm has alpaca products for sale.
Alpacas of the Southwest started in 2002 and after a year of research, Nyberg began purchasing alpacas with bloodlines from Peru, Bolivia and Chile. He shopped the United States for them and bought alpacas in five states.
He attended numerous seminars on alpacas and how to process their fiber.
Alpacas of the Southwest is a great place to get up close and personal with the animals, Nyberg said. It’s a fun and educational experience and a good photo opportunity, he added.
The 6-acre ranch is off Interstate 40 at Blake Ranch Road, about 15 miles east of Kingman. Go south on Blake Ranch and turn left on the frontage road. You can’t miss it. Their website is www.southwestalpcatours.com.