A self-proclaimed agritourism destination, YaYa’s Alpaca Farm in Garden City, Missouri, has blossomed from one man’s sanctuary, to a Kansas City area must-see working farm.
After a personal tragedy of losing his wife to cancer, owner, Karl Blandin, purchased alpacas on a whim as a way to soothe his pain. Once healed and remarried, he and wife, Kathy, opened up YaYa’s, and began offering tours for a small fee as a way to spread the joy the animals brought to Blandin during his time of need to others.
Often mistaken for a llama, alpacas are almost dog-like in their demeanor and friendliness. Their gentle nature is most notably why small operations such as YaYa’s are popping up around the country as family-friendly places to visit and enjoy. The yarn produced by the animal is also becoming commonplace, as it is spun in to remarkably soft and warm clothing items, as an alternative to sometimes scratchy sheep wool.
Today, YaYa’s alpaca farm and visitor’s center hosts multiple tours each week. Tickets are $10 for those 3 and older, and are to be purchased in advanced on the farm’s site.
The 90-minute tour begins with a detailed explanation of the alpacas as a working farm animal, and their contribution to agriculture. Blandin leads the tour and will explain why he decided to embark on this venture, and why the fleece harvested is so special. He also notes how to treat the animals as well as precautions to take.
Once the presentation is complete, patrons are free to take pictures, pet the animals both inside and outside, feed them and be entertained by their mostly friendly, but sometimes humorous, interactions. The outside pasture houses close to 50 alpacas who freely roam and play.
One unique alpaca, named Christmas, was born with a deformity and wears braces on two of her legs to assist in walking. A tour favorite, she sits almost on command and loves the attention from the smallest of visitors.
For those interested, the tour ends with a chance to work with the yarn produced by the alpacas using a loom machine, even taking home a small souvenir if desired.
- The alpaca farm is about a 45-minute drive from Kansas City, so plan accordingly for meal and nap times.
- The tour begins with a presentation from the owner, and might be the hardest part for the littlest of ones. Luckily, alpacas are roaming the room, and provide entertainment and petting opportunities for distraction.
- Be weary of toddlers walking behind the alpacas, as the animals can kick!
- Also beware of spitting from the animals.
- The farm is home to a store that sells products made from alpaca fleece.
- Tickets must be purchased in advance.
- YaYa’s hosts birthday parties and events for those interested.
A few hours at an alpaca farm is sure to bring a smile to animal lovers young and old. Put YaYa’s on your Kansas City bucket list!