World

A wool-gatherer's fantasy: Bolivian fair celebrates llamas, alpacas for food and fashion

  • An Aymara indigenous woman wearing a shawl made of alpaca wool attends a fashion show featuring clothing made of local alpaca and llama wool, at the annual Camelid Expo fair in El Alto, Bolivia, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015. The herding of cameloids like alpacas, llamas and vicunas has been a major highland activity since 4000 B.C., providing indigenous civilizations with a reliable and sustainable supply of wool, meat, fertilizer and heat. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

    An Aymara indigenous woman wearing a shawl made of alpaca wool attends a fashion show featuring clothing made of local alpaca and llama wool, at the annual Camelid Expo fair in El Alto, Bolivia, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015. The herding of cameloids like alpacas, llamas and vicunas has been a major highland activity since 4000 B.C., providing indigenous civilizations with a reliable and sustainable supply of wool, meat, fertilizer and heat. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)  (The Associated Press)

  • Models wear creations made of alpaca and llama wool during a fashion show at the annual Camelid Expo fair in El Alto, Bolivia, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015. Llamas and alpacas are native to the Andes in South America, particularly Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and Peru. The llama is Bolivia's national animal and featured on the national coat of arms. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

    Models wear creations made of alpaca and llama wool during a fashion show at the annual Camelid Expo fair in El Alto, Bolivia, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015. Llamas and alpacas are native to the Andes in South America, particularly Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and Peru. The llama is Bolivia's national animal and featured on the national coat of arms. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)  (The Associated Press)

  • An alpaca with partially regrown hair stands with others during the annual Camelid Expo fair in El Alto, Bolivia, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015. The herding of cameloids like alpacas, llamas and vicunas has been a major highland activity since 4000 B.C., providing indigenous civilizations with a reliable and sustainable supply of wool, meat, fertilizer and heat. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

    An alpaca with partially regrown hair stands with others during the annual Camelid Expo fair in El Alto, Bolivia, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015. The herding of cameloids like alpacas, llamas and vicunas has been a major highland activity since 4000 B.C., providing indigenous civilizations with a reliable and sustainable supply of wool, meat, fertilizer and heat. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)  (The Associated Press)

It's a place where wool-gatherers come to dream.

Producers of some of the world's finest wools meet each year in the Bolivian city of El Alto to celebrate the vicuna, alpaca and llama.

It has the air of an Andean country fair, with visitors strolling past pens showing the finest animals.

Models parade down a catwalk in the latest local designs. Herders swap tips. Venders offer handicrafts. The hungry can munch on llama jerky.

Leucadio Velarde Tancara said the weekend's show helps inspire breeders such as himself to improve their stock.

Bolivia has about 3 million camelids, second only to Peru in the region.