Have you visited an alpaca farm? As November cools the air, southern Mississippi transitions into a season for fall festivals. The air is tinged with a palpable sense of excitement, and if you want a unique fall festival, look no further than the tranquil community of Stringer. There, you will find A Stroka Gene Us, an alpaca farm that has emerged as a beacon of joy and togetherness.
This post provides a guide to the highly anticipated annual fall festival at A Stroka Gene Us. With a blend of fun, education, and authenticity, it’s an event that truly captures the spirit of the community and the uplifting essence of the season.
A Stroka Gene Us is an alpaca farm with a difference. It is both a working farm and an experiential destination for visitors from all walks of life. Mary Ann Stroka’s passion for these gentle animals is infectious. Her mission to share her knowledge and love for them has been met with immense success. She has created a safe haven for the alpacas, who are treated like royalty on this beautiful farm.
The Fall Festival at A Stroka Gene Us is an annual event that has become a much-awaited tradition in the community. It’s a celebration of all things autumn, coupled with the opportunity to get up close and personal with these endearing creatures.
Where is Stringer, Mississippi?
Stringer, Mississippi, is an unassuming jewel in the American South. It’s a place where simple charm is imbued with hearty warmth. This community holds on to its roots while welcoming visitors with open arms. Amid sprawling forests and gently rolling hills, Stringer embodies the quintessential rural idyll, offering an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. As fall approaches, the air is crisp, carrying the scent of pine and the promise of the harvest’s late season. Autumn’s tranquility is punctuated by the gentle hum of life on the farm. This serene setting provides the perfect backdrop for the much-anticipated Fall Festival.
Getting to A Stroka Gene Us from nearby major cities is a scenic journey through the heartland of the South. From Jackson, Mississippi, the state’s capital, take the I-20 E and US-49 S to Stringer. The drive is approximately 2 hours and offers a delightful view of Mississippi’s diverse landscapes.
From New Orleans, Louisiana, the journey is a little longer, taking roughly 2.5 hours. Start on I-10 E from New Orleans, then continue onto US-59 N toward Hattiesburg. Once you’ve turned in Ellisville onto MS-29 and then to local Hwy 533 and have arrived in Stringer, follow the signage towards A Stroka Gene Us. Despite its rural location, your destination is easy to find. Enjoy the journey and take in all the scenic beauty.
A Stroka Gene Us – Mississippi’s Alpaca Farm
This working alpaca farm is located just a few miles north of Laurel, Mississippi. These gentle hills and rural landscapes are sometimes visible in the popular television show Home Town on HGTV, starring local residents Erin and Ben Napier. But at A Stroka Gene Us, the alpacas are the stars of the show, especially during this fun fall festival event.
For the fall fiber festival, alpacas were corralled into a small pasture near the festival entrance. The animals were eager to meet their visitors – especially with a handful of alpaca snacks readily available.
Our trip included visiting with the alpacas and other farm animals, carding and spinning demos, shopping with the product and food vendors, and stopping at the gift shop.
The alpaca farm began in New York and relocated to Mississippi in August 2012. It’s a working farm with many different activities at any time. In addition to caring for the on-site alpaca herd, the staff teaches classes in spinning fiber, crocheting, knitting, needle felting, and more. Mary Ann Stroka is the resident expert on fiber creation. She hosted our tour of the alpaca farm.
The Huacaya alpacas gathered near the fence in the petting area. They weren’t shy and were very inquisitive animals. Notice the beautiful colors in their coats. Our tour covered the A-Z of life with alpacas – the care and feeding, shearing process, carding the fiber, spinning, and finally, some ready-to-crochet yarns in the farm store.
Even with the animals in the pasture, we could see the beautiful brown coats and touch the soft fibers.
What is Alpaca Yarn?
Alpaca fleece is the proper name for the fibers harvested from alpacas. It is a soft and silky natural fiber, yet durable and easy to care for.
The alpaca hair is often compared to the wool from sheep. However, it does not have lanolin and is therefore hypoallergenic. Some consider alpaca fleece and the resulting garments to be warmer than sheep’s wool and less itchy.
After the fleece has been harvested, it is tumbled in a wire bin. This cleans it by removing the larger of the leaves and twigs that have accumulated in the harvesting process.
Each stage of processing continues to refine the fleece into yarn.
Alpaca fleece is delicate and lightweight. It does not retain water and is somewhat water resistant in a finished product. These features were nature’s way of providing for the animals when they lived in the harsh climates of South America’s mountain ranges.
The fibers are then carded and ready for spinning. Notice the depth of color and the cotton-candy texture of these soft fibers.
The next phase of processing is to move the bulk of fiber through a spinning wheel and onto a reel. Once on the plastic reel, the process is complete, and the yarn is ready to move to the production of clothing or household items.
How to Care for Alpaca Wool Clothing
When working with alpaca garments, care is essential for the longevity of the finished garment.
After handwashing, rinse the garment twice in clean, cold water. Gently squeeze out the excess water by hand. Be very gentle to avoid stretching and wrinkles. Lay the clothing between two large towels and then slowly roll the towels to absorb more moisture while holding the proper shape.
Let the garment “rest” in the towels for a few minutes. Lay the garment flat on a dry towel to finish the care process. Do not hang to dry or use a drying machine.
Vendors and Alpaca Festival Activities
This festival was so much fun! The products in the vendor booths were just perfect for a fall outing. In addition, you can purchase retail products in the farm store. The cozy shop displayed everything from raw fiber to completely finished products. There was truly something for everyone!
The End of the Day
Yes, it was a full day of adventure at the alpaca farm in Stringer, Mississippi, and I enjoyed every minute. This guy checked out before the festival ended, but his work was done.
What is Special about Alpacas?
The alpaca is one species but has two fleece types, often referred to as breeds. These are the huacaya alpacas and the suri alpacas. Huacaya alpacas produce crimpy, curly, dense, and fluffy soft fiber. The Suri alpacas have longer, tight, curled locks that resemble dreadlocks and hang in long ringlets.
Are Alpacas Easy to Raise?
Alpacas are generally very docile and easy to handle, making them an excellent choice for those interested in starting an alpaca farm animal operation.
They are also relatively low-maintenance compared to many other farm and range animals, and the alpacas only eat plants and vegetation. They spend the majority of their day grazing.
What is the Purpose of Raising Alpacas?
The primary purpose of raising alpacas is to harvest their fiber, which can be turned into many different products, including yarn and fabric. Alpaca fiber is very strong and durable yet soft and lightweight, making it a popular choice for garments and other textile products.
How Do I Get Started with an Alpaca Farm?
Alpacas are herd animals, so you should purchase at least two of them. Be aware that alpacas require some acreage for grazing, so you may incur land costs when starting your farm. Finally, alpacas require some daily care, so be sure to factor in the costs of food, shelter, and medical care when planning your alpaca farm budget. To learn more, schedule a session with Alpaca Julie, an experienced alpaca business coach and mentor.
Alpacas are lovely creatures that can provide many benefits. If you’re thinking about starting an alpaca farm, be sure to do your research and make sure you have the space, money, and commitment required to care for these animals.
If you’re interested in alpaca fiber but don’t want to start your own farm, alpaca yarns are available online and in local yarn shops. Alpaca yarn is typically very soft and durable, making it ideal for many fiber arts projects, from sweaters to hats to blankets.
If You Go:
Stringer, Mississippi 39481
Call ahead to request a farm tour – (716) 863-4366.
Hours of Operation
Tuesday through Saturday – 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
The Fall Festival happens the weekend before Thanksgiving. Check their website to confirm. Click here for more Crochet Getaway fall festivals, yarn crawls, and events!