BELOIT ญญญ- After 11 years, Pacesetter Alpacas in Beloit will be hosting its final Alpaca Farm Days later this month.
The 2018 Alpaca Farm Days will take place from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sept. 29 and from noon-4 p.m. on Sept. 30 at the Pacesetter Alpaca Farm, 5546 W. Plymouth Church Road.
Farm owner Dennis Pace said he and his wife Christy are looking to downsize and eventually retire. Though this will be the last event, Pace said retiring is likely a 5-10 year plan, and he wants to make sure everyone knows the farm isn't going out of business.
"I don't think it's going to happen overnight," Pace said. "We still love the animals and love what we're doing. It's just reality is what it is. It's not something we can do forever."
Pace said the farm will continue to have store hours until the farm and/or all the animals are sold. Currently the farm has 33 alpacas, with three in the process of being sold. The Paces have been raising alpacas for 23 years.
"We've put so much work into the farm, and we've improved the quality of our animals over the years. I would hate it to just disappear," Pace said. "I'd like to see a young family that wants to have the rural lifestyle take it over."
Pace said joining alpaca producers across the nation to educate the public on the process of turning alpaca fiber into fleece, yarn and other apparel items one last time is bittersweet. The event also is a fundraiser. Any proceeds will be donated to the Rock County chapter of Friends of Noah, an animal rescue group. Donations also will be accepted. There is no charge for admission.
"We don't raise a lot of money for them, but they seem awfully appreciative of what we do raise," Pace said. "We'll miss that partnership."
He said about 600 people come out the farm days event every year. The Paces considered making the 2017 Alpaca Farm Days their final event, but Dennis Pace said so many people last year shared their excitement for next year's event they decided host one more to have a proper send-off.
The couple works with County Road Alpacas, of Brooklyn, Wisconsin, and Dreaming Tree Alpaca Farm, of Rockton, but Pacesetter is the farm that organizes the event.
"We're looking to the future, and it's a lot of work to put this on," Pace said.
At Pacesetter there will be food, demonstrations and activities for the children, such as making nesting balls for birds out of alpaca fiber.
Known for being stronger, lighter and more resilient than wool, alpaca fiber often is compared to fabrics like cashmere for being so soft. However, like wool, alpaca fiber resists moisture, insulates when it's wet and dries fast.
The fiber is used for hats, sweaters, teddy bears, scarves, gloves, mittens, rugs and more. It's also considered hypoallergenic. Attendees can visit the farm's store during the event to see and purchase products made using alpaca fiber.
The store has regular winter hours from the weekend after Thanksgiving until the weekend before Christmas. The hours are from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturdays and from noon-4 p.m. on Sundays. The Paces also will open the store by appointment outside of those hours.
For more information, visit pacesetteralpacas.com or call 608-757-2261.