The small beginnings of the present day MAPACA Jubilee began in 1993 as the Eastern Alpaca Rendezvous. At that time, there were very few breeders, and alpacas were quite an unknown species in North America. The first and second alpaca importations from Chile had only recently taken place in 1984 and 1988-89. Five breeders, each contributing $2000, got together to create a plan to raise the awareness of alpacas and educate the general public about these wonderful, mystical animals. Those five breeders were: Lynn and Vic Gattari from New York, Antoinette and Ben Brewster from Virginia, Linda and Fred Walker from New Jersey, Bev and Cleve Fredrickson from Virginia, and myself and my husband, Bud Stewart from Pennsylvania. We were eager to meet one another and plan the first event to showcase alpacas.
The result of our meeting was the first Eastern Alpaca Rendezvous, held May 15 and 16, 1993 at our farm, Rocky Run Alpacas in Malvern, Pennsylvania. There were a total of eight to ten farms from New England to Virginia that participated in the Rendezvous. At that time, there were no sales lists or email addresses to which we could send invitations. However, in order to attract the public, the participants placed advertisements in their local newspapers and notices in their veterinarian’s offices. Visitors came from the sponsors’ states and also from Tennessee. We were thrilled that approximately 300 visitors attended the show!
Because there was no official format for an alpaca show, we simply exhibited the alpacas in pens under a large tent and talked to the public about the magic of alpacas. A four-piece, square dance string band added a nice country touch to the Rendezvous. Even though many of the alpacas were not halter trained, we set up a small obstacle course for them to go through. The Rendezvous was featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer and on the local TV station.
Dean Neely, DVM from New Jersey, was the guest speaker. Dr. Neely’s topics were: Breeding and Birthing Alpacas; Health Management of Your Alpacas; Body Scoring; and Pre-purchase Exams - Choosing Breeding Stock. Antoinette Brewster spoke on Why Alpacas? - A Market Overview. Linda Walker spoke on Fleece to Fashion, and Bud Stewart talked about Getting Started - Fences, Pasture and Shelter.
In succeeding years, the Rendezvous moved to Linda and Fred Walker’s farm, Alpacas of WoodsEdge Wools, and to Hartford, Connecticut using basically the same informal format with pens and speakers. By that time, the number of alpaca owners had increased significantly so that the New England Owners and Breeders Association and the Southern breeders wanted to establish their own local alpaca events. The Southern Alpaca Fest was held at Antoinette and Ben Brewster’s farm, Lanark Alpacas.
At this time, AOA established the criteria to organize smaller, regional affiliates across the country. Thus MAPACA, the Mid-Atlantic Alpaca Association, was founded in 1996, seventeen years ago. The organizational meeting was held at the LoVerde’s in New Jersey and was attended by Ernest and Barbara Kellogg, Bud and Gail Stewart, Linda Berry Walker, Earlah Swift, Vic and Lynn Gattari, and Edward Boyd. The states included in this organization were: Virginia; West Virginia; Maryland; Delaware; Pennsylvania; New York; and New Jersey, the same states that comprise the organization today.
Ernie and Barbara Kellogg hosted the first official MAPACA Jubilee at the Double "O" Good Alpacas in Virginia on May 10, 1997. Thirty-two breeders and 150 alpacas attended this first-of-its-kind affiliate event, which now included an alpaca show. As with the earlier events, the public was invited to attend. Because the Jubilee was widely advertised and people were curious to learn more about alpacas, 1,000 people attended the Jubilee, which was an outstanding number of attendees! Two large 60' x 120' tents housed the alpacas, the show ring, and the food. The weather was cool and breezy, which added to the overall enthusiasm of the crowd and the comfort of the alpacas.
The new AOA show format was followed, and the show was judged by Susan Tellez. Both breeders and alpacas alike were novices to this alpaca show experience. We had a lot to learn. Including the public in these events was very important in order to educate them about alpacas and their many attributes, and to spread the word about this unusual livestock for business and pleasure.
In 1998 and 1999 the MAPACA Jubilee moved to the Augusta County Fairgrounds in northern New Jersey. Because the fairground buildings were open with no side walls and the weather was chilly, breezy and rainy, this venue proved to be unsatisfactory.
In 2000, Ernie Kellogg, of Double "O" Good Alpacas made a recommendation to the MAPACA Board of Directors that the Jubilee be moved to the Pennsylvania Farm Show complex in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Kellogg liked the central location and easy access to the venue from the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Route 81. Since the Jubilee is still held there today, it was obviously a good choice. The first Jubilee at the Farm Show complex in 2000 was a gala affair with many vendors, educational speakers, wonderful South American music, and a real spirit of "Joie de Vivre." The alpaca show and the subsequent alpaca sales added to the convivial spirit.
The enthusiasm for the location, the organization, and the success of the MAPACA Jubilee continues today. A dedicated and hard-working group of volunteers continues to make the Jubilee one of the largest alpaca shows in the country, attracting breeders from as far away as New Mexico, Washington, and Oregon. It is the place to see and be seen in "alpacadom." The ribbons received at the Jubilee are coveted awards and proudly advertised and used for marketing purposes by the breeders. From its humble beginnings the Jubilee has grown into a highly respected, successful, and admired alpaca event.