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Alpacas and crafts: Fairgrounds packed with weekend events

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union

What: Winterfaire craft show

Where: Nevada County Fairgrounds

When: Sat. Oct. 20 and Sun. Oct. 21 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Cost: $2 admission

Contact: For questions call Shirley Williams at (530) 272-7033

What: Alpaca show

Where: Nevada Country Fairgrounds

When: Sat Oct. 20 from 8 a.m.-? and Sun. Oct 21 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Contact: For questions call Eva Fisher at (530) 273-4488

The Craft Guild of Nevada County marks the 30th anniversary of its annual Winterfaire craft show at the Nevada County Fairgrounds this weekend.

“Our club is the very first people who ever held a craft show here,” guild President Barbara Wilson said.

But the guild, which pioneered craft shows in Nevada County, is about far more than crafts, said co-chair Shirley Williams.



The craft show is the guild’s fundraiser for the year, and members also sponsor other community activities like the Friendship Club, an organization that helps disadvantaged teenaged girls.

“We’ve kind of grown,” she said. “It’s a great organization, and they do a lot of great things, not just getting together and making crafts.”




Williams has been with the craft guild for about 25 years and will be sharing a booth that offers a variety of items.

“We do ceramics, painted glass like painted wine glasses, aprons, embroidered tea towels, Christmas ornaments, some jewelry. We just do lots of different things. So our booth is very diversified,” Williams said.

The fair will feature various handmade crafts by local artisans as a way to raise funds for two $500 art scholarships and other community projects throughout the year. According to publicity volunteer Jerri Glover, there will be more than 40 booths.

“There’s a really nice selection,” she said. “There will be some woodworking scrollwork, a gentleman that makes puzzles with a scroll saw, a few jewelers, beading, wire-wrapping, fused glass. We have ladies that make really interesting handbags and purses, knitters and crocheters, lots of scarves and afghans and kinds of things.”

According to Glover, the vendors profit from their sales, but the revenues from the admission fee, booth fee and baked-goods sales contribute to the guild’s account for community donations.

“That money all goes into the guild’s account, which they then turn around and share with the community,” Glover said.

For guild member Linda Waller, craft shows like Winterfaire help fund new projects, which can add up fast.

“It’s not a cheap hobby, I’ll tell you for sure,” she said. “Your kiln’s like $500, and you have a controller for $300, a torch $300, and concentrators are $500 each, and glass can go $100, $150 per pound.”

Waller has done the fair for about four years and makes her own beads and metalwork to sell.

Waller recently began metalwork after taking classes at a silver shop in Arizona.

“I make Viking net where you wire net together and manipulate through all these draw plates and make a clasp; I do all of the metalwork and the clasp, everything,” she said.

According to Waller, the craft show has been a success.

“It’s a wonderful show and we always have 2,000 people come out,” she said.

Alpaca show at the fairgrounds

The alpaca show offered by CALPACA (California Alpaca Breeding Association) will also be featured at the fairgrounds this weekend ass part of the third annual Gold Country gathering. Visitors can watch the alpacas compete for various titles in categories based on fiber quality, color and age.

“There are 165 alpacas and 197 entries, some in more than one category,” said halter superintendent and alpaca breeder Cheryl Tenold. “There are entries from 45 farms and five or six vendors.”

There are two types of alpacas — Huacaya, which are teddy bear looking, according to alpaca farmer Russell Ratti, and Suri, which Ratti said have dreadlock-type fiber.

Ratti and his wife, Karen, own an alpaca farm in Penn Valley and have shown animals for 11 years in order to gain exposure for sales and breeding.

According to Ratti, the animals are judged on straightness of back and legs, making sure the back hocks don’t rub against each other and the quality of fleece.

“It’s judged 60 percent on fleece and 40 percent on confirmation,” he said.

Along with the competition, there will also be a costume contest with animals in costume along with their owners, a fiber art show where at least 50 percent of the pieces are made of alpaca fiber and a spin-off competition, where two ounces of different ranches’ alpaca fiber are sent to a particular spinner who judges the fiber.

“The fiber is judged by age, which one spins up the best and which one looks the prettiest,” said events coordinator Eva Fisher.

According to the event website, any or all of the alpacas that are entered in any part of this show are qualified to be entered in an auction to run during the show.

Fisher also said there is going to be an alpaca obstacle course, which requires training for the easy-to-scare alpacas.

“These animals typically can’t be trained,” she said. “They don’t always like it. They get really fearful.”

A silent auction will take place where the proceeds will benefit the University of California, Davis, Veterinary Student Scholarship Endowment Fund. On Saturday, there will also be a country barbecue and wine tasting.

Staff writer Jennifer Terman can be reached at jterman@theunion.com.


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