Judith Newman, 24th May 2022
When I started out with alpacas, I was keen to learn as much as possible about them both to ensure that I was able to look after them properly but also just because it was great to meet like minded people and talk alpaca for hours on end. I joined my regional group and after attending a couple of educational events I plucked up courage to put my hand up and offered to help at an upcoming show. My offer was immediately accepted, and I was asked to turn up at the venue the day before the show to help with the setup and on the day of the show to generally help out where I could. This was one of the best things I have ever done as it introduced me to a wider network of alpaca owners and gave me an insight into showing and what it takes to actually stage a show which, not surprisingly, is an awful lot of work. I now help with the organisation of two local alpaca shows and I am the organiser of the South West Alpaca Group fleece show. Everyone, except the Judge, is an unpaid volunteer helper at BAS shows be it the Ring Steward, Collection Ring Steward, Show Organiser etc they all give their time freely and they are the lifeblood of shows which simply could not take place without them.
We have had a core of people organising the SWAG halter show for many years, previously at the Bath & West Show and more recently at the Somerset County Show. We are all getting older, and these days find it harder to balance so many balls in the air at the same time and wanted to hand the baton over to some new younger blood so that we could retire gracefully. Thankfully, some volunteers have stepped up to work with us this year with a view to taking it on and running with it from next year. Had no one stepped forward the show would have been lost and that would have been a blow to alpaca owners in our Region. Halter shows are often a first introduction to alpacas and alpaca products for 100’s if not 1000’s of people every year and some of those people will go on to pursue alpaca ownership themselves and/or work with alpaca fleece. It is effectively a shop window for the entire industry regardless of whether or not you show yourself.
There are some BAS members who feel that too much attention is paid to showing as lots of members don’t show. I would respond to this by saying that showing raises the profile of all of our alpacas not just those that show, and this publicity is free to all members as all BAS Shows are self-financing and do not cost BAS itself a penny of its resources. Shows cover the whole alpaca and provides a showcase for the beautiful fibre that they produce with a number of shows now including craft classes in their offering.
My purpose in writing about this is to encourage any of you, not just people that show, to step forward and help out at your local show. You will get a lot out of it and help ensure that shows continue to take place. Remember that if there are no volunteers there are no shows!
I hope that you all have a great summer doing whatever it is that you choose to do with your alpacas. Personally, I am looking forward to the birth of this years cria and the matings that will fulfil the next stage in our plan for continuous improvement.”