Alpaca-lypse now! Engage with non-llamas at Eastland Alpacas’ open house

By on November 7, 2018

Mya Sanger poses with Cordon Blue, one of the alpacas at Eastland Alpacas. (Photo by Rochelle Shenk)

Opportunities to learn about and engage with cute, friendly alpacas abound at Eastland Alpacas’ fall open house. Held on the farm at 2089 Risser Mill Road, Mount Joy, Eastland Alpacas’ open house started last weekend and continues Saturday Nov. 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 11 from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

“When we started the open house 16 years ago, we were the only alpaca farm in the county and people didn’t know a lot about alpacas,” said Kevin Zurin, who operates the farm along with wife, Sue, and their family. “It’s an opportunity for people to meet an alpaca and learn about them.”

The first two weekends in November were selected for the event, and it’s been held those weekends ever since. It’s grown not only in the number of activities offered, but also in popularity. Zurin said a total of 800 people attended the first open house.

“Now we have 800 people in the first hour or two,” he said with a smile.

Estimated attendance on Nov. 3 was 2,500, with more than that on Nov. 4. It’s become a destination for people throughout the area; Saturday there was even a family from Alaska.

“I came to see the alpacas; they’re so cute!” said Hadley Shoaf.

Christi Zahm and her family have visited Eastland Alpacas’ open house for several years.

Suzette Hartranft, Ephrata, holds her one-year-old granddaughter, Odessa Quillen, daughter of Alysha and Glen Quillen of Lititz, as they visit Eastland Alpacas during an open house last year. (LNP file photo)

“We love alpacas, and this is a great way to learn more about them,” she said.

There are opportunities to feed an alpaca, lead an alpaca, see an obstacle course demonstration by the Lancaster County 4-H Club Alpacas with an Agenda, and a discussion by the Zurins about alpacas. Wagon rides, balloon creations, and barrel train rides were also available, as was the opportunity to purchase items from the Farm Store boutique, which features a variety of items made with alpaca fiber such as socks, gloves, hats and sweaters.

“The most common questions we get are: how long they live; the difference between an alpaca and a llama, what’s a baby alpaca called, and what do we do with their fleece,” said volunteer Ciara Stoner.

For those who are curious, here are the answers. An alpaca generally has a lifespan of 20 years. Alpacas and llamas are both related to the camel. Alpacas are smaller than llamas, and generally llamas have longer, curved ears while alpacas have shorter, straight ears. While llamas were originally bred to be a beast of burden, alpacas were bred for their fleece or fiber. Similar to wool, alpaca fiber is considered soft and luxurious; because the fiber contains no lanolin, it’s considered hypoallergenic. A baby alpaca is known as a cria.

And, while the event draws people to visit the alpacas, it also provides an opportunity for the Hempfield Church of the Brethren youth group to raise funds. The youth group operates the food stand at the event. Funds raised through the food stand are used to fund the group’s annual mission trip.

“This is a great opportunity for the kids. The mission trip is so valuable &tstr; not only do they reach out to another community, but they come back with a new perspective,” Zurin said.

For further information about Eastland Alpacas and the open house, visit eastlandalpacas.com.

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at RAASHENK@aol.com.

TJust a couple of crias, chilling in the field at Eastland Alpacas. (LNP file photo)

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *