Gaze into an Alpaca's gently-lashed brown eyes and feel its soft, lightweight yarn at the 11th Annual Estes Park Alpaca Market. This free event is scheduled for Sept. 4 and 5, 2010 in Barn W located at Estes Park's Fairgrounds at Stanley Park

Sponsored by Switzer-Land Alpaca Farm, the market features Alpaca spinning, weaving and knitting plus demonstrations, exhibits and lectures. The market expects 18 vendors to offer fiber, fiber equipment and jewelry in addition to Alpaca clothing such as blankets, sweaters, hats, gloves, scarves and a wide variety of soft, lightweight fleece.

Sixteen farms will display Alpacas. All Alpacas for sale are registered with the Alpaca Registry Inc.

Natives of the Andean highlands began breeding Alpacas 6,000 years ago for the animal's fine, dense fiber that is soft and offers good insulating qualities. The "no-itch" fiber is almost free of guard hair and comes in more than 20 natural colors, from true, non-fading black to cream white with roans, pintos, browns, reds, fawns, rose grays and charcoal grays. Experts say Alpaca fiber is soft as cashmere and lighter and warmer than wool.

Alpacas include the rare Paco-Vicunas breed with fiber renowned for its rarity and color. The Huacaya breed produces a mostly hollow (for warmth) fiber, which is soft, dense, crimpy and gives a woolly appearance, while the Suri breed provides a more solid, very silky and straight fiber.

For more information, contact Phil and Chris Switzer of Switzer-Land Alpaca Farm at (970) 586-4624 or go to their website at