Located approximately 45 miles south of Kansas City, YaYa’s Alpaca Farm offers visitors a scenic rural experience with open fields, barns and a herd of roaming alpacas.
After 32 years selling insurance for a living, owner Karl Blandin acquired his first seven alpacas in 2011. He bought them from another farm that was going out of business.
“I just thought they were cool-looking ... cutesy little animals, and I just wanted them to hang out with them,” Blandin said in an interview with Fox 4 News in Kansas City.
He and his wife, Kathy, opened the farm to the public in 2017 and have since been offering 90-minute tours of the farm so guests can see the herd of 55 alpacas up close and personal.
Last year, the farm welcomed over 8,000 visitors for tours, and an additional 4,000 for the Third Annual Yaya’s Alpaca Christmas event Nov. 27 to Jan. 3. (Restrictions were in place to accommodate COVID-19 regulations at the time.)
For the first half hour of the tour, visitors meet six alpacas in a barn. They can feed the alpacas, as well as learn general information about the animals and the process of caring for them.
Visitors then head to the pasture where the farm’s 40 female alpacas are kept. They can pet and feed them and take photos with the animals while getting to know their distinctive personalities.
Among the pool is a chocolate brown alpaca named Christmas who was born with a deformity in her legs and wears two leg braces that assist her walking.
“She inspires people, and she inspires other folks with different (disabilities),” Kathy Blandin said. “She's just this ‘got to get up and go’ attitude, but she's also very loving and knows when people need quiet time to just sit there and pet her.”
This portion of the tour includes a session called “hungry on the hill,” where the Blandins can photograph individuals or groups of visitors with the alpacas.
Afterward, guests are taken back to the barn for the last 30 minutes of the tour to learn about how the farm processes and dyes the ethically sourced alpaca fiber.. Guests can operate the carding and felt loom machines themselves to make a miniature scarf as a souvenir.
“We have 4-year-olds that can run the machines — it’s pretty incredible,” Kathy Blandin said. “Parents are a little leery at first, but the kids do so wonderful on the machines, and they love being able to make their own things with them.”
Visitors can also purchase an array of products from YaYa’s Alpaca Farm Store. Items include decks of playing cards with photos of the alpacas, alpaca fiber dryer balls, coin purses and socks, hats and gloves sourced from from the New England Alpaca Fiber Pool.
Aside from tours, the farm also allows guests to book private events for birthday parties, field trips, bachelor or bachelorette parties and more. The farm also holds a free annual Christmas event each year and will begin to offer classes on alpaca fiber art in June.
“Alpacas almost always give people something they need that they didn’t even know they needed, whether that be a smile because they had a bad day, or maybe they need just a little extra love and understanding,” Kathy Blandin said.