Shady Ridge Farms celebrates 25 years
It was in college when Sheila Fugina met her first llama, and it took just seconds for her to fall in love with the big, wooly animal. However, it wasn’t until years later that she would own one herself.
“We purchased our first llama at the Minnesota State Fair 25 years ago, the first year they had a llama show at the fair, and we’ve taken llamas to the fair since 1990,” Fugina said.
A quarter century later, Sheila and her husband Britt are celebrating the 25th anniversary of Shady Ridge Farm with an open house on Oct. 5-6, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The two have been raising llamas at the farm’s current location on 130th Avenue in New Richmond since 1996.
“We lived in the cities for a while, but I just really wanted to get out of St. Paul,” Fugina said. “So, we moved to St. Joseph and started a bed and breakfast where people could interact with the llamas. In 1996, the bed and breakfast got to be too much, so we closed up and moved to New Richmond. At that point, we reduced our herd form 30 llamas to 18 or 20.”
Shady Ridge Farm has been a popular spot for tourists since it opened its doors. People have come from all over the area to see and interact with the llamas, including a large contingency of “llama groupees,” as Fugina calls them, who never miss a llama-related event involving Shady Ridge Farms.
“There are a lot of city people who are just enamored with llamas who follow us around to every event we attend,” Fugina said. “I think people see the llamas as something that is real unique and that is what they are attracted to.”
Ever since they opened Shady Ridge Farms, the Fuginas have focused on breeding their llamas for the highest quality fiber possible and that quality will be on display at the open house in the form of prize-winning fleeces, carded batts and various types of yarn and felting kits. There will also be a wide variety of finished garments and new products for visitors to look at and buy.
“We’ve always concentrated on breeding our llamas for their fiber and we’ve picked them for their fiber stock,” Fugina said. “People come to use for our fiber quality and it feels good to be so well known for that. We also use some of our llamas for PR things, too. Businesses hire out the llamas for store grand openings and stuff like that.”
Visitors who make it out to the 25th anniversary will get the opportunity to take a llama through an obstacle course or a short walk. There will also be a drawing for prizes, including the grand prize of a llama picnic hike for four people.
“Celebrating our 25th anniversary makes me feel old, but it also makes me feel really good, because it is one of the only things I have stuck with for this long of a time,” Fugina said. “I’ve never really stayed with anything, even my jobs, for more than five or six years. This has been the one constant in my life for a long time and it feels good to build up a herd like we have now.”
Shady Ridge Farm is at 1331 130th Ave., about four miles south of New Richmond and a quarter mile east of Highway 65. For more information on the open house, which will be held rain or shine, contact the Fuginas at 715-246-5837 or firstname.lastname@example.org.