On Saturday, June 23, 2012, we once again welcomed participants to the Third Annual Llama Fun Day. As our publicity flyer said, the event was planned to give non-llama owners and those just curious about llamas a chance to spend a day with a llama and learn more about them.   More than 260 people came out on a hot, sunny day to look, learn, and participate.  

The format was similar to previous events, but with a few changes.   As before, the event hours were 10am to 5pm. This  year we tried setting up a specific schedule of events, rather than simply letting things run all day long. Last year the more popular events, such as the wet felting workshop and the obstacle course, drew constant lines and nearly wore out the organizers (not to mention the obstacle course llamas). This year we scheduled staggered starting times for different activities, and posted the event schedule at each station. This seemed to be an improvement.

This year's event was sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Llama Association, the Utah Llama Association, and Pear Tree Llamas. As attendees drove in, they were welcomed first by the RMLA banner at the main ranch gate, and second by our enthusiastic greeter, Asim Bolca, who gave each vehicle a map of the event, an event schedule, a copy of our liability release to sign, and a cheerful welcome.  After parking (free, of course), people were free to wander in any direction within the event.

Inside the barn the fiber operations were in full swing. Mike Coffey of Heber City sheared four of our Pear Tree llamas. Particular (our proud old Hinterland stud), Taylor, Freestyle, and Nusta all got lion cuts and provided large bags of fiber to go directly to the fiber cleaning stations.

Ulla Kauffman brought her skirting table  and showed attendees how to use a skirting table and a fiber tumbler box. She reported that her voice nearly gave out as she answered questions about fiber processing throughout the day.

From the barn, attendees could move on to visit vendors selling llama and alpaca fiber and handcrafts. Randy Yeates of High Country Alpacas offered alpaca roving and fiber.  Cheryl Juntilla of La Chiripada and Kathy Stanko of Iron Horse Ranch staffed a large and beautiful booth with both dyed and natural yarns, fleeces, small toys, and handcrafted clothing. Other vendors sold llama jewelry and llama finger puppets.

The “interactive” activities drew large crowds throughout the day.  Shirley Weathers and Bill Walsh of Rosebud Llamas brought three pack llamas and demonstrated gear and techniques for llama packing. The three llamas also went for occasional walks with event-goers.

At the obstacle course, Cliff and Andrea Orton and Wally Juntilla were kept busy matching llamas and eager llama handlers. A new touch this year was the bright yellow “Ask Me What You Can Do With a Llama?” stickers purchased from Quality Llama Products. Each child who completed the obstacle course received a sticker, and most wore them proudly throughout the day.

The wet felting workshop took off under the eager hands of two young people – Samantha and Wyatt – grandchildren of one of our event volunteers, Kay Shean. The children managed the workshop capably and well, and announced that they would be in charge of felting next year!

We were excited and pleased that Beverley Heffernan of the Backcountry Horsemen of Utah was able to make a return visit to the event. She and her two quarter horses – Luke and Bo –  mingled with the crowd of llamas and people alike. 

After being properly introduced to Taylor the Llama, Luke discovered a new four-footed friend, and nuzzled Taylor’s neck gently.  At first startled by this unexpected grooming, Taylor eventually decided he rather liked it.

At Beverley’s suggestion, she and Katy experimented with a special demonstration of llama and horse together on the obstacle course.  Katy and Mister went first, followed by Beverley on Luke. 

Onlookers were delighted to watch big Luke (16.5 hands) negotiate the weave obstacle.

One of the underlying objectives of this event is to show the public just how well horses and llamas can exist together, both at home and in the back country, if they have been properly introduced.  Llama/horse interactions throughout the day clearly supported this goal.

Rounding out the menu of things to do and see were some informational exhibits. Beverley Heffernan brought materials on Leave No Trace Camping and the Backcountry Horsemen. Ulla Kauffman designed a display of information about llamas as sheep guards.  A wealth of handouts about llamas from RMLA, ILR,  ULA, and various other sources was available at Karen Moritz and Lee Beard’s RV , which was parked near the barn and served as both an information kiosk and the official First Aid station (which fortunately no one needed). 

From the beginning of this event, our purpose has always been to provide a casual, no-stress environment where people can learn about llamas.  As the attendance of more than 260 people clearly shows, the idea of an educational event involving llamas has strong appeal for the public.  It is our hope that llama organizations throughout the country will consider adopting something like our Llama Fun Day model as a way to speak to the public. Call it marketing (and it certainly is), but it is also a way to reach out and share with others the special knowledge that we have of life with our llama friends.

We are very grateful to the small army of volunteers and staff who helped with this event. In addition to those mentioned above, approximately one dozen friends came together to help in a variety of functions.  We could not possibly stage an event of this type without their support and commitment.  We also appreciate the participation of Don Pedro’s Mexican Restaurant of Heber City, who provided a colorful Mexican food wagon where lunch could be purchased during the event. 

Photos by Robert Trim and Kathy Stanko





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