Alpaca of the State Awards - The Award’s history and development so far

It is great to see that the concept of Alpaca of the State has been embraced by breeders even if its implementation has attracted some criticism. The SJC and the Board hope and intend to continue the award into 2020 and to improve the rules and systems for calculating it by considering and incorporating all constructive suggestions.

For this first year of the award both the Board and the SJC had outlined in the 2019 Summer edition (21) of World of Alpacas their understanding of how the award would be made, the period over which, and how, it would be calculated. There were significant differences between the two approaches, however, the core message from each was the same:

  • Ribbon-winning alpacas at each regional show on the AAA show calendar would be allocated points towards the award and the alpaca with the most points for its state would win.
  • Winners would be given free entry into the National Show and a cash prize towards accommodation or travel to the National Show.

Although the SJC had indicated an intention to develop the concept of Alpaca of the State further it has not had the time this year to give to creating and announcing a detailed set of rules for the award or for determining a points scoring system for calculating the winners. An order has been placed for an upgrade to eAlpaca to enable it to calculate the winners of Alpaca of the State in the future. Work on this eAlpaca upgrade project has started but is not yet in production. Therefore we could not use it to calculate the winners for this year.

Meanwhile, the article, News from the AAA, on page 30 of that edition of World of Alpacas set out a roadmap for conducting Alpaca of the State for this year. The article is heavily based on minutes from the Board meeting held 20 October 2018 in which the Board outlined and adopted its concept of Alpaca of the State. The minutes have been available to members on the website for some time.

That roadmap is:

  • The competition will commence on 1 January 2019 and will conclude just before the National Show.
  • In future years the competition will commence immediately after the National Show to include results from regional shows held after the National Show.
  • The state to which an alpaca belongs will be determined by the state in which its owner has their alpaca stud.
  • The alpaca with the highest points accumulated for shows in its state will win Alpaca of the State in its state.
  • The prizes for the Alpaca of the State competition in each state will be:
    • First place – free entry into the National Show for that animal plus a bonus animal entry plus $250 towards expenses for attending the National.
    • Second place – a free entry for that animal plus a free bonus entry for another animal.
    • Third place – free entry into the National show for that animal.
  • Points will be allocated as follows:
    • Supreme – 9 points
    • Champion & Best of Colour 7 points
    • Reserve Champion 6 points
    • 1st – 5 points
    • 2nd – 4 points
    • 3rd – 3 points
    • 4th – 2 points
    • 5th or highly commended - 1 point.
  • If by chance there is a draw, the winner will be decided by the SJC who will look at the number of shows, placings received and number of entries into shows, with a final decision being decided on higher placings.

The article finished with an exhortation: “Get excited and get involved!!”

As this year progressed and it became clear that we would not have a touch of a button calculation available in eAlpaca for determining results, various alternatives were discussed. The main idea was to ask Show Convenors and/or Regional Secretaries to calculate points scored towards Alpaca of the State for each show and then forward them to the SJC for collating. This was still being discussed as a possibility in July this year.

By the end of July it was clear that we would not have Alpaca of the State winners at all unless someone downloaded results from eAlpaca onto a series of Spreadsheets in Excel, created columns for the various awards, incorporated a look-up table to calculate points for each animal adopting the points system above and then hand-entered the results for each show in a state on a separate page of the spreadsheet in the column for that ribbon. Finally the points for all shows in a state needed to be collated in a summary sheet. When sorted highest to lowest, this gave us our results for this year.

Thoughts for the Future

Single competition or separate for huacayas and suris? – This is the original suggestion outlined in the SJC article in World of alpacas. We could modify Alpaca of the State for 2020 so that, instead of having a single competition for huacayas and suris alike with announcements and awards to three places, we have separate competitions for each with a single prize for each, free entry to the National Show for the winning animal and one other plus $125 towards expenses for attending the National show.

Points scoring – Does the points scoring system currently in use require some modifications? For example, should a Supreme in a Colour Show receive the same points as a Supreme in an Age Show? Given that all contenders for the title this year consistently won points for firsts and usually for Champions or Reserves, do we need to differentiate in the points score at a third place and below? Could we simply award 3 points to any animal receiving a ribbon below second place in a class? What points should be awarded where there are best in colour male and female ribbons awarded ahead of an overall best in colour class? Should points be awarded to a sire or dam for results from progeny classes? There may be other questions or you may feel that the points system currently in use should be balanced in some other way.

Plans for calculating results in 2020 - The spreadsheet process outlined above is repeatable and a ‘how-to’ instruction manual could be prepared to enable someone to do this again next year if the eAlpaca upgrade is not in production in time for the 2020 calculation. This method is incredibly labour-intensive and this year took two people more than fifteen hours to complete but they had to work out how to do it to begin with. If the method is recorded it might take less time in the future. Better still might be for each state to appoint a person to undertake the calculations at the end of each show so that the state can announce interim scorings across the course of the year. This would mean that breeders are aware of how animals that are possible contenders are doing show by show and there would be no surprises when winners are announced.

Rules for the Alpaca of the State Award - The SJC will need to develop comprehensive rules governing the competition for the future. For example, what happens if the animal that would otherwise have won, dies before the National Show? If a winner does not attend the National Show, should the expense money that would otherwise have gone to its owner be retained by the AAA or paid to another winner or place-getter (if we have second and third place-getters)? These and more questions will need to be considered.

Best New Breeder in the State – This competition is intended to be similar to Alpaca of the State and calculated on the same points system but across all animals with the herd prefix of the new breeder. A new breeder will be one who joined the AAA within the last six years, for 2019, that would mean any breeder who joined in or after 2014. The Best New Breeders in each State would then compete, based on point score for a National Best New Breeder who would be awarded a perpetual trophy.

Again, a system for calculating Best New Breeder is under construction in eAlpaca but cannot yet produce a result. We will try to calculate the winners using the spreadsheet methodology in time for announcement at the National Show. The perpetual trophy for this award has been sponsored for the next five years.

Constructive suggestions welcomed

If you have thoughts about how Alpaca of the State or Best New Breeder should be decided in the future or would like to volunteer to calculate and collate the results for your state please forward your suggestions and offers of assistance to the AAA office (amanda@alpaca.asn.au) or the Chair of the Showing and Judging Committee (chair.aaasjc@gmail.com).