Winterfestarts and crafts show opens this Saturday

Published on Thu, Dec 1, 2005
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Winterfest arts and crafts show opens this Saturday

Can a small-town girl from Mt. Orab, Ohio, find happiness raising camels in Blaine?

Well, maybe not camels, but the 110 alpacas and nine llamas that John and Kelly Wood raise at Wildwood Dream Alpacas on Sweet Road are members of the camel family, first cousins of the much larger “ship of the desert” variety still used in parts of Asia as a beast of burden.
Beginning this weekend, Blaine area residents will have a chance to visit these “camels” when Woods hosts the first of an annual “Winterfest” arts and crafts show and sale during the first four Saturdays in December.

Aside from her weaving and spinning, and other alpaca products, eight other artists from a wide-ranging neighborhood centered in east Blaine will be exhibiting and selling in a gallery that John Wood built on the grounds.

There are four “camelids” in the new world, all native to higher elevations in the Andes Mountains of South America. The guanaco and slightly smaller vicuña are wild and endangered. The larger alpaca and llama, biggest of the four, have been domesticated for millenia and are easily trained to lead and halter.

ike camels, they spit when necessary, but rarely on people. “They’re like big, friendly dogs,” said Kelly Wood, as one of her animals nuzzled her after being hand fed from a bucket of grain, “and they each have their own personalities.”

The 14 acres that are now home to the Wildwood Alpacas herd once were part of a larger farm where John Woods grew up. Over the years bits and pieces have been carved off for his siblings and his parents now live on H Street Road. The Woods have had different kinds of animals over the years, including horses, but aside from the usual collection of ranch dogs and cats their time is now entirely devoted to alpacas and llamas.

Wood raises them for their soft, luxurious fleece that feels a lot like cashmere. The two breeds of alpaca, suri and huacaya, each has its own type of fleece. The huacaya’s hair is fluffy and soft like an akita dog or a teddy bear, but the suri’s coat bunches up “like a Rastafarian’s dreadlocks,” laughed Wood.

Kelly Wood is a devoted weaver and keeps three large floor looms near the entrance to her house. “The fleece comes in 22 different colors,” Wood said, “and you can also get more than one color from a single animal, much like a pinto horse.”

he show and sale runs each Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and includes supervised arts and crafts activities for children, face painting; live music from Celtic Roots; and organic, shade-grown coffee from Lone Jack Coffee.

Friendly alpacas will be kept near the covered entrance for up close and personal encounters including petting, Wood said.

Especially Stormy, who’s so friendly you’ll think he’s trying to sell you a car,” she said.

Artists and their media include broom squire Ron Snyder, who will be making decorative and functional brooms as well as Christmas ornaments on site, art instructor Dolores Jordan, who will have materials available with which to illustrate her classical teaching methods; wood sculptor George Eden, who makes high-quality renditions of trucks and boats out of local hardwoods; and watercolorist Cathy Taggett, who also works in slab ceramics and fused glass in her nearby “Circle of Trees” studio.

Others include oil painter Billie Marrs, who also makes interesting and artistic creations out of cast-off children’s books; photographer Jack Kintner who makes scenic and wildlife digital photos, and who will also demonstrate digital photo editing; and Kay Rose, who makes heirloom linens and hand-knitted, felted handbags.

Most artists will be demonstrating their craft in their chosen medium, and admission is free.

Wildwood Dream Alpacas is located approximately two miles east of Blaine on Sweet Road.

Shortly before the farm the main road turns right (south) to continue as Statvold Road, making it necessary to turn left midway through the turn to continue east on Sweet Road.

Wildwood Dream Alpacas is ahead on the left, marked by a large old horse drawn wagon sitting next to a large landscaped stock pond. Watch for signs that will direct to parking.