Great Western Alpaca Show highlights growing use of Alpaca fur

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DENVER – Nearly 1,000 alpacas filled the National Western Stock Show Complex this weekend for the annual Great Western Alpaca Show.

And this year, organizers say clothing made from alpaca fur is gaining even more attention.

That’s partly thanks to the flashy sweaters worn by team USA at the Winter Olympics, which featured alpaca fiber.

“That was wonderful,” says Alpaca Rancher Julie Ritschard. “I think it’s getting more popular.”

Ritschard owns an alpaca ranch outside of Colorado Springs, and spent the weekend explaining the trend to people at the Alpaca Show.

The “yarn” is made in a similar fashion to sheep wool.

“It’s very warm, and very light weight,” says Ritschard.

“It’s warmer than a sheep’s wool, and it’s as soft as cashmere,” says Kim Taha.

Taha organized the show, which unites breeders from across the country.

She says Colorado has become a booming area for alpaca ranching, and alpaca clothing.

“There are a lot of ranches in the Rocky Mountain area,” she says. “In fact, Colorado is probably one of the larger states that has a lot of alpacas.”

She expects the show to continue to grow in future years.

And if the clothing isn’t your thing, Ritschard says you should still come to see the animals.

“There’s not much cuter than a baby alpaca,” she says.

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