1996-2006 — Compiled by Ruth Fuqua
In 1996, a group of alpaca owners from five farms got together to create the Southeastern Alpaca Association with its goal to be a non-profit organization to promote alpacas in the southeast. In just nine years, the SeAA has grown to over 130 members in its seven state region. We're proud of the accomplishments of our organization. Here is just a part of the timeline:
May, 1996 – the SeAA is formed. Monthly meetings at the member farms were held from May through September.
September, 1996 – the SeAA became an official affiliate of the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (AOBA), one of the very first.
October, 1996 – the first event at the Georgia National Fair was held, with the new SeAA logo designed by Bill Watkins unveiled on a fleece show banner. A grand total of 30 fleeces were entered.
November, 1996 – New officers were elected, Geoff Bennett became president, Bob Hoehn, Vice President, Juanita Crake, Treasurer, Sherry Watkins, Secretary. There were 12 members.
In 1997, a shearing clinic was held in April in GA, a fiber festival in May in TN, and the first SeAA sponsored event was held in November, the first Southeastern Alpaca Fall Fest at the Horse Park in Conyers, GA.
1998 began the SeAA association with Sunbelt Expo. A big tent and 12 alpacas were on hand to greet the visitors. A regular caravan of alpacas went to 3 events in 11 days, the GA National Fair, Sunbelt Expo, and the second Southeastern Alpaca Fall Fest.
By summer of 1999, the SeAA had grown to 25 farm members. The store was a traveling affair to several events in the region, and the show caravan was on the road to the three October events in GA.
In 2000. the SeAA held its first meeting of the year at the AOBA National Show and Conference in Louisville, and then the annual meeting in Loudon, TN. The membership had grown to 50 members. David Carrell became president.
In the fall of 2000, the southeastern Alpaca Fall Fest was moved to Marianna, FL, in hopes of attracting future alpaca owners and breeders. 75 alpacas were in the halter show, and 30 fleeces were entered.
Spring 2001 brought a new look to SeAA events. The Spring Fling was held in Mt. Juliet, TN with alpacas on display, fiber demonstrations, shearing, and the SeAA Store. Over 300 attended the one day event, with 75 people participating in the Vet Clinic co-sponsored with the University of TN Vet School the second day.
In August 2001, the purchase of a traveling store trailer was accomplished, and unveiled at the annual meeting in Hiawassee, GA. Dr. Philip Sponenburg gave a presentation of alpaca color genetics, and at the same meeting, the SeAA website was launched.
Fall 2001 continued the pilgrimage to Moultrie for Sunbelt Expo. Because of the growth of the organization, the Fall Fest was rescheduled for the next spring. But Moultrie was a big hit, and the SeAA began plans for building a permanent building for Sunbelt and alpacas.
Throughout 2001 and 2002, the SeAA held quarterly meetings at sponsoring farms. The meetings were always fun, and often there were short seminars.
By 2002, the SeAA had grown to 60 members. In May, the first Southern Select Alpaca Show was held in Cumming, GA. 125 alpacas were on hand for he Level II AOBA halter and fleece show, and a special logo was designed for the event by Caroline Mixon.
The 2002 annual meeting was held in Monteagle, TN, with Dr. Christine Navarre presenting information about alpaca parasite control and management. Larry Dietsch and Kay Kemp were elected to the Board of Directors, joining existing members Bill Crake, Susan Darling, Ruth Fuqua, Nancy Rondeau, and Roger vanRekom. Larry Dietsch became president of the SeAA.
2002 was a time of growth for the SeAA. By the end of the year, membership had grown to 85 members, plans were underway to construct a permanent building in Moultrie, and the thoughts turned to promotion and further growth of the organization. In the fall, SeAA sponsored the alpaca display and store at SAFF in NC.
March, 2003, was the date for the 2nd Southern Select Alpaca Show. Due to the expanded numbers of entries, the show was moved to Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, TN. The show was a Level III AOBA certified show, with over 250 entries from 18 states. Halter, performance, and fleece classes were included as well as the introduction of the SeAA Photo Contest.
AOBA once again held its 2003 annual conference in Lousiville, KY, and the SeAA debuted its display with photos from the Photo Contest. The display would become a tradition for all events.
The 2003 Annual Meeting was held in Chattanooga as the SeAA went rolling on the river on a riverboat.
Fall, 2003, was an exciting time. The Alpaca Pavilion at Sunbelt Expo became a reality. All 16 farms spaces were filled with alpacas, as well as the SeAA Store. Seminars at the hay bale conference areas were a big hit with the crowds.
By 2004, the SeAA had grown to over 100 members. The bylaws had been amended to limit farm membership to the seven southeastern states of AL, FL, GA, MS, NC, SC and TN. It did not limit the participation in the Southern Select Show in Shelbyville, however. The Southern Select grew to over 350 halter and 100 fleece entries for the March event.
In 2004, the Southern Select Silent Auction and Raffle raised over $12,000 to be donated to areas of alpaca research. Funds were donated to the Alpaca Research Foundation, The International Camelid Institute, and the SeAA helped to establish the Tennessee Alpaca and Llama Research Fund at the University of Tennessee Large Animal Hospital.
Summer 2004 brought the annual tradition of the SeAA sponsored neonatal clinic with Dr. Toni Cotton. Lands on lab training made the clinic a meaningful educational experience. The first clinic was held in GA in 2003, and would move to North Carolina in 2004, Tennessee in 2005, and Alabama in 2006 in an effort to rotate locations for easy accessibility for our wide geographic area.
The 2004 Annual Meeting was held at the Chattanooga ChooChoo. The newly revised website design was presented by webmaster Brian Keahl, and new Board members George Dick and Charlotte Goldston were elected to the BOD to replace Susan Darling and Bill Crake.
Sunbelt Expo 2004 was just a whole lot of fun. With the Alpaca Pavilion now an established fact, the crowds were even better than before. The SeAA was featured on several local TV broadcasts, and RFD TV came by to interview everybody and produce a feature on alpacas.
February 2005 brought the AOBA Fiber 2 Fashion Conference to Atlanta, GA. The SeAA Store was a vendor at the event, featuring Made in America alpaca wares.
The 4th annual Southern Select Show returned to Shelbyville, TN in early March, 2005. Once again, the entries exceeded expectations with close to 500 entries. Educational seminars featuring Dr. Norman Evans and alpaca fiber guru Chris Switzer contributed to the event. The fiber area was expanded to include exhibitions of members' use of alpaca fiber in various ways. And once again the SeAA was able to donate $12,000 to alpaca research to ARK, ICI, and the UT Vet School.
The 2005 Annual Meeting was held at the Fairyland Club in Lookout Mountain, GA. Dr. Natalie Coffer from the University of Tennessee Large Animal Hospital presented research funded by the Tennessee Alpaca and Llama Research Fund. Bylaw amendments also were passed by the membership.
In the fall of 2005, AOBA moved its headquarters to Nashville, TN. SeAA members pitched in to spruce up the offices with paint, cleaning and fleece storage shelving before welcoming the staff members to AOBA and to the Southeast.
October 2005 meant the annual pilgrimage to Moultrie, GA for Sunbelt Expo. The barn was full with alpacas and as always, the Store was in fine display. The focus of the education seminars was — what to do with fiber. A full range of fiber demonstrations were on hand, and SeAA members felted a rug to be donated to the SeAA for the Silent Auction at the Southern Select in 2006.
During 2003, 2004, 2005, state affiliates within the Southeast region began to form. The Florida Alpaca Breeders Association, (FABA) was first, with the goal to serve its members with local events and education networking. Then the Alpaca Small Farm Network (ASFN) organized, with its primary member base being farms with fewer than 50 alpacas. Carolina Alpaca Breeders Organization (CABO) soon followed. The SeAA continued to maintain its membership on a larger regional scale, and grew to 130 members by the end of 2005. The early visions of the SeAA were coming to fruition: a growing regional alpaca association that would support local organization as the need and interest developed.
In November 2005, the SeAA co-sponsored the first ever Palmetto Alpaca Classic in conjunction with ASFN in Clemson, SC. Over 130 alpacas were entered in the halter classes, with a strong showing of fleeces as well.
Shelbyville, TN, was again home to the Southern Select Alpaca Show in March, 2006. Kay Kemp was the event coordinator for the 4th year. The show debuted the new Southern Select logo designed by member Holly Williams. Nearly 500 alpacas were on hand as well as 150 fleeces. The show continued the Photo Contest and new competition was expanded with the Handcrafter's Spin-Off. Fiber seminars on spinning and weaving were conducted by SeAA members, and Dr. Norman Evans was on hand to provide education on the emerging issue of Bovine Viral Diarrhea and herd health management. The Silent Auction and Raffle were held as usual, with a new twist on the herd sire Auction. A Live Auction coordinated by Charlotte Goldston was held for the herd sire breeding donations at the dinner on Saturday night. Through the Auction, the SeAA donated $20,000 to the Alpaca Research Foundation, the University of Tennessee Large Animal Hospital, and to the University of Georgia Veterinary School for alpaca research.