RANDOLPH - If you've ever had the desire to get up close and personal with an alpaca, this is your lucky weekend.
National Alpaca Farm Days are being celebrated Saturday and Sunday by area alpaca farmers. Farms will be open for the public to learn about alpacas.
"All the alpaca farms in the area will open up the farms for people to come in and learn about alpacas," said Sue Bean, who owns A Slice of Heaven Alpacas and Simply Natural Alpaca Gift Shop with her husband, Mike. "They can show them alpacas, let them see their fleece. If they have stores on their property, people can see what kind of products are made."
The Beans moved to Randolph last October, although they purchased their first alpaca in September 2009. Currently, 12 alpacas are on the Beans' farm. Additionally, the couple shares a male alpaca with a farm in Pennsylvania. They have 10 females and two male alpacas on the farm, three of which are three-and-a-half months old.
"I don't care what kind of mood you are in, whenever you get done with chores and the little babies come up and give you a little kiss on the cheek or bite you in the butt, it just makes your day," Bean said. "I'll tell you, it's awesome."
Caring for an alpaca is less expensive than caring for a cat or a dog, according to Bean. Alpacas do not eat anything high in protein, because it can make the fleece coarse.
Additionally, there is a yearly alpaca show in Syracuse called the Empire Alpaca Extravaganza, in which alpacas and their fleece are judged. Bean said she and her husband are training some of the younger alpacas to enter into the show. They will also be taking some fleece with them.
"The alpacas can be judged by the judges in the ring," Bean said. "They can look at the alpacas themselves, they can check their bone structure and their fleece."
This weekend, the Beans' farm will be having giveaways, as well as offering discounts to their store. Additionally, visitors will be able to see and learn about the alpacas on the farm. Refreshments will be offered, with all proceeds being donated to the community cupboard in Randolph. Demonstrations will be offered as well.
"We also have a fleece room, where I have fleece on the table and then we show them how it's processed," Bean said.
A Slice of Heaven Alpacas is located at 11144 Pope Road in Randolph. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for National Alpaca Farm Days.