The golden fleece

We’re all familiar with cashmere—that often expensive, lightweight fiber that is usually made into sweaters—but not many people are aware of alpaca fleece. It’s considered even more luxurious than cashmere. Where can you find alpaca products, you ask. One place is at Sierra Nevada Alpacas’ third annual Alpaca, Fiber and Craft Festival, which features alpacas and farm-related products from nine local alpaca farms. The alpaca is related to the llama and has been domesticated for thousands of years in South America. Its fleece is warmer, lighter and stronger than wool, according to SNA. While most alpacas live in Peru, Bolivia and Chile, alpaca farms are becoming more popular in North America. The Alpaca Owners & Breeds Association says that alpacas are gentle animals and can be considered the perfect farm animal since they don’t eat as much grass as other farm animals, and they tend to keep their droppings confined to one or two areas of the pasture. In one year, an alpaca can produce enough fleece to make several sweaters. If you want to learn more about alpacas, stop by Sierra Nevada Alpacas, 305 Rowell Circle, off Red Rock Road. The festival runs 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 2. Call (775) 969-3871 or visit—Kelley Lang