We made our first visit to the "National" last weekend (6 - 8 March).
This was a really interesting experience which gave us an insight into many of the activities associated with showing alpacas.
Firstly, the logistics. Watching some 370 animals being unloaded from their transport, checked-in, and located in their pens was a good spectator experience.
Some were curious, some were hesitant, and some were reluctant to the point of "sit-down" strike.
Note to self ahead of next year - make sure to practice the trailer maneuvers before hand (or arrive very early before there are too many people around to laugh!)
Unlike "Crufts", the animals are shown in "Paddock condition", so you will not see owners performing last-minute grooming on their show animals.
The layout of the hall is impressive, with the breeders displays surrounding the show arena.
Watching the show was highly educational. The show judging is 40% on conformation; and 60% on fleece quality. So from the public area it is quite difficult to place the entries in order. However, it was fun to try!
It was also good to see what was expected of the exhibitors, and the handling of their animals; the dress code; the protocol. All good information to acquire ahead of our first experience of showing.
The most beneficial parts of the experience was seeing the range of alpacas on display; and talking to many of the exhibitors. With some, it may be an overture to visiting their farms, and possibly buying animals from them. With others, it was all about talking about the qualities of the alpacas. In some cases, it was an exercise in identifying our future competitors. Mostly the benefits centred around realising what a good group of individuals they are.