Saturday, May 7, 2011

Alpaca Fest?

Well, today I drove NW on Interstate 75 for awhile in order to attend something called the Alpaca Fest in Davidsburg, Michigan, which is near Clarkston, which is midway between Flint and Plymouth.  And so on.  It's a lovely part of the state -- very wooded, small rolling knolls and larger hills, mixed farming, and Davidsburg itself is a village aspiring to towndom, with a handful of interesting looking small businesses in a two-block-long "downtown."

The Alpaca Fest was supposed to be at one of the Oakland State Park System's small fairgrounds, and indeed, after some miles of delightfully curvy country driving, a big sign blaring "Alpaca Fest" suggested that I had arrived.  I drove up the small road toward a huge building surrounded by cars -- a dead give-away, typically, that the advertised event is at hand.  I went in.  A large room crowded with parents and children but no alpacas set off alarms.  I walked around in the space for awhile, noting a tomato-planting contest, a woodturning demonstration, face-painting tables, and so on.  But no fibers, and certainly no alpacas.  Not even in the small (SMALL) petting zoo outside.  Finally, I asked one of the Information People:  "Are there no fiber booths?"  She looked at me as if I might be speaking ancient Sumerian, or maybe Bag Lady-Ese.  "Um, no," she said, turning away a bit too quickly.  She thought I was a loon, pure and simple.

So I left.  I had seen some kind of big barn or arena, or both, behind the big community center building, so I drove down yet another road to see what it might be.  There were no further signs indicating any kind of alpaca event.  But Dutch people with a certain amount of Jewish blood don't give up easily.  So down the road I went.  I found myself in the middle of a horse race.  Literally.  There were horses lined up and galloping, horses trotting along, horses all done up in braids.  This was not an alpaca fest -- at least not yet. 

Then I saw more barns.  So I climbed a hill in my little bug, avoiding horses as I drove, and came to a building marked "Sheep Barn."  Indeed.  It was full of sheep.  Also more children.   I got out of the car, now quite thoroughly annoyed.  I found some kids with what looked like parents in tow.  "Is there an ALPACA FEST anywhere near here?" I asked in a tone of voice that I'm sure scares my students.  "Well, I think it's out back somewhere."  Still no signs, by the way.  I went behind the "Sheep Barn" on foot and found a barn labeled  something like "Seeds of Life," though that's not exactly right.  Something to do with lambs and other small life-forms.  Another person, this time an adult, told me that the alpaca were in the Goat Barn.

Of course.  Where else would they be?

So I went to the Goat Barn.  Sure enough, there were about a dozen stalls with alpacas, and next to the Goat-Barn-Cum-Alpaca-Fest was a small shed within which there were alpaca showings.  In the building itself, I found mostly animals for sale.  But two vendors had handspun alpaca yarn nice enough to buy -- one in particular had some perfectly stunning marled handspun with photos of the animals from whom the fiber had come.  She wasn't there.  I waited.  I waited some more.  I made the rounds one more time and talked to a woman I'd met two years ago at the Flint International Alpaca Festival (not held in a goat barn).  Finally, I learned that the woman who had abandoned her booth UTTERLY was involved in some kind of showing at the small arena.  So I left a card near her chair with an invitation to call me.

That's it.  I went home and then to the studio.  What a hoot!



  1. What a perfect description of being in the middle of Michigan. I see nothing has changed in 33 years (since I left...)!

  2. ...and I hope there was a glass or bottle of wine when you returned...

  3. Michigan happens to be one of the most achingly beautiful states in the union, and I do NOT think that even Michiganers appreciate what's in their own back yard. svb

  4. Nope, no wine. Sadly, if the future of American wineries depended on me, we wouldn't have any. But. I DID teach two new people how to knit, and one to crochet, so that was a good ending to a bizarre day. svb