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People flock to see Pine Island Alpacas Sunday

Homestead Arts Farm hosted its first Christmas on the Farm event Sunday.

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Sarah Turay, center, handles an alpaca at Homestead Arts Farm near Pine Island, Minn., as her brother David Turay, left, and sister, Mary Turay, right watch. The siblings were at the farm for a Christmas on the Farm event Dec. 4, 2022.
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PINE ISLAND, Minn. — Call it a getaway in a manger, even if it was technically in a barn. The Homestead Arts Farm hosted its first Christmas on the Farm event Sunday.

More than 200 people cycled through the store and barn to pose for photos with alpacas and browse the store.

The 32-acre farm is home to two dozen alpacas and a blacksmith shop. Mark and Lori Grimes knew they would eventually open for holiday events at their farm.

“We want to make sure people understand it’s Christmastime and that people love their neighbor as you love yourself,” Mark said.

Last year, they had a small event just after they finished building the shop.

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“We just got in under the wire,” Mark said. “We didn’t have much time to get the word out or do any advertising.”

This year, the couple put the word out about the event in advance and offered time slots for people to come and have their picture taken with some of the farm’s alpacas. Every slot filled up more than a week before the event. The couple and Pine Island photographer Jennifer Anderson were able to squeeze in some walk-in visitors.

Teddy and Sarah Durga, of Rochester, were able to get in for photos at the last minute. The couple have dogs, rabbits, chickens and ducks at their home. Alpacas aren’t likely joining their pack anytime soon, Sarah said.

“This seemed like a fun event,” she said.

Mary Turay, 12, of Rochester, got in close to one of the alpacas for a few photos. She and her family have been to the farm multiple times. Mary helped shear the animals for their soft wool in the spring and has taken alpacas for walks over the summer and fall.

“You have to have patience,” she said. “They’re stubborn sometimes and don’t always want to go places.”

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Mary Turay, right, poses with an alpaca at Homestead Arts Farm near Pine Island, Minn., while photographer Jennifer Anderson, left, takes a photo Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022.
John Molseed / Post Bulletin

“They have a mind of their own,” said her mother, June Turay.

“They have their own personalities and they’re nice and fluffy,” Mary added.

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Lori turns that fluffy wool into yarn and knits hats, sweaters, scarves and other items to sell at the farm gift shop. Mark hosts blacksmithing classes at the farm’s forge and workshop. The couple established the farm to teach artisan crafts, share skills and build some self-reliance into their own lives, the couple said.

“I think now people want to be more self-sufficient,” Lori said. “They want to be able to repair things and build things.”

The couple said they plan to hold Christmas on the Farm annually.

Related Topics: PINE ISLAND
John Molseed joined the Post Bulletin in 2018. He covers arts, culture, entertainment, nature and other fun stories he's surprised he gets paid to cover. When he's not writing articles about Southeast Minnesota artists and musicians, he's either picking banjo, brewing beer, biking or looking for other hobbies that begin with the letter "b." Readers can reach John at 507-285-7713 or jmolseed@postbulletin.com.
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