The 2009 Northern Illinois Alpaca Extravaganza

After running across Rojo the Therapy Llama a few days ago, Liz and I happened to find out that the 2009 Northern Illinois Alpaca Extravaganza was this weekend.

After a quick glance at the schedule, the thing we figured would be the most fun would be the obstacle course. Many of the sessions looked like classes or seminars, but we figured… alpacas and obstacle course. That’s a good combination.

The scheduled start was 9AM, which was a bit early on a Sunday. But we woke up early, got some coffee, and trekked the 40 minutes or so to the Lake County Fair Association, in Grayslake.

Walking through the parking lot, we determined that we were in the right place.

Interior – lots of vendors by th front door, and lots of booths circling around the show and obstacle areas, in the middle.

One of the first alpacas we spot.

Lots of folks were lined up in wait.

We were surprised to see so many kids. Turns out, the first round of the obstacle course was specifically for children.

And here’s the obstacle course. In a nutshell, there’s a walkway, a “high” jump bar, a few poles they have to go around, a patch of blue plastic to walk across, a see saw, an area where they have to walk backwards, a blue hoop, and finally a small curtain of ribbons that they have to walk through.

Kids standing near the entrance, a few minutes prior to the obstacle course starting.

Ribbons, for all manner of things. I’m sure a few went to the obstacle course, but a majority of these I suspect were for the adult “shows” and fleec competitions.


Waiting for their turn at the obstacle course.

One of my favorite photos of the event. The poor girl looked so nervous.

It was evident, after one or two alpacas, that the obstacle course was actually quite challenging. Even with guidance, the alpacas didn’t want to walk up on the walkway. And though it was a simple blue, plastic tarp… my guess is that to an alpaca, it looks like a big pool of water.

Add to all this the fact that many of the kid handlers were shorter than the alpacas themselves, and it was a tough little competition.

I say Adults, but I think there was only one adult competitor. She made it look easy, compared to the kids… but it still looked like quite a challenge. Given the low number of adult participants, my guess is that most of the adults competed in the “show” categories, taking place in the nearby grassy area.

Post-event, hanging out.

Many farms had their own booths set up, in the outer ring of the expo hall.

Most alpacas stayed their distance from us. If we wandered too close and they weren’t into it, they’d just slowly walk away.

A lot were just sitting around, hanging out.

A few curious ones would get close. But it was rare for one to allow you to pet it, or to get super close. We were able to talk with a few folks who ran farms, and they let us pet their alpacas up close.

For the most part, they’re all quite tame and docile. There wasn’t a lot of aggression or anything like that – mostly, if they got uncomfortable or didn’t like what was happening, they’d just turn around and walk away.

The adult competition and “showing.”

At the far back, lots of alpaca and llama related vendors.

There were also lots of ads promoting alpacas for breeding.

Tons of great alpaca wool/yarn.

On our way out, Liz picked up a bunch for some future projects.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Here’s what I think… Great piece of Photo Journalism!!!I have been to several shows at the OLD Fairgrounds so this gave me a chance to see the new venue. You’ve shown it well plus the composition of each photo was good. Loved seeing the video of the obstacle course! Perhaps a shot or two of the judging in the ring would have been nice. Overall anyone totally unfamiliar with the animals could come away from this piece really knowing what they look like & how they act.THANK YOU

    Carolyn Reply

  2. I love to watch the video of my son walking our alpaca. Hayden was 3 at the time and it was his first time in the ring. Thank you :)

    Nicci Reply

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