Thursday, February 9, 2023

Llamafest fun, entertaining

September 4, 2001
Riley, Mich. residents Al and Christine Wilson walk their llamas around the main show area of the Llama Fest on Saturday at the Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education. The two own the Riley Ridge Llama Farm. —

The difference between a llama and a camel is obvious - a hump.

But that’s not the only difference those who attended Llamafest 2001 may have discovered.

The event, which was held Saturday and Sunday at the Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education, gave attendees a closer look at the animals.

More than 200 llamas were on display for the public to view and learn about.

The event also gave owners a chance to display their llamas, sell them and give the public an appreciation for the diverse animal.

“It’s like going to the zoo, kids love it,” said Bob Macauley who runs Paradise Ranch, a llama farm in Mecosta, Mich.

Macauley and his wife, Deb, first became interested in the animals when they saw them in a parade about 10 years ago. Deb Macauley then decided she wanted her own llama farm.

“We have owned llamas for five years now, and this is our first year showing off our two girls,” she said.

The couple’s llamas, Paradise and Sparkle Plenty, each took home a second place award for their owners in the halter class competition, which examines the structure and body formation on the animal.

Besides coming to the event to showcase their pets, the Macauleys also came to display the animals’ soft wool, which produces valuable fibers.

“There is a big market for typical llama wool, with prices between $6 and $7 an ounce,” Deb Macauley said. “Plus they come in 26 varieties.”

Roxanne Burgett and her granddaughter, Madeline Burgett, 8, took some time out Sunday afternoon to see the festivities.

“I saw an ad in the paper yesterday, so I thought this would be something fun to take my granddaughter to,” Burgett said. “This was the first time that Madeline had seen a llama.

“There were a few llamas giving kisses, they are just friendly animals,” she said.

The Rooker family came out to see the llamas compete in the obstacle course.

“My favorite part (was) when the llama wouldn’t go through the tire,” said 7-year-old Karl Rooker, who saw a llama up close for the first time Sunday.

In addition to displaying the animals, several demonstrations were set up, such as how to load a llama for camping, how to spin llama wool and other information sessions where people could ask questions.

Carol Onweller, one of the event planners, said public interest in the event this year has been better than last year.

“We’ve had a great response this year, there’s been more traffic, it’s been great,” she said.

This is the seventh year the Michigan Llama Association has held the event, but it has been going on for longer than that, Onweller said.

Onweller, who owns a llama farm in Haslett, said changes were made this year to help cater to the public.

“Instead of signing up for classes, we had out-of-class demonstrations that anyone could go to,” she said.

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