BOZEMAN, Mont. - Despite alpacas gaining a large following on social media and excitement coming off of its win for a major Google innovation award, most of the time, the only way Alpacas of Montana fans can see the amazing animals at the heart of the Bozeman-based business is over a fence.
But for one weekend every year, the goofy, loving pack creatures walk alongside visitors.
"It's such a fun time seeing these kids get so excited, get their picture taken with the babies,” says Alpacas of Montana owner, James Budd. “The kids totally light up."
“I think it’s just a really cool experience for families and everyone to just come see, I think it’s something that’s not usual,” says first-time visitor Riley Glanzer.
Just a few miles from downtown Bozeman, the Alpacas of Montana farm might be one of Bozeman’s hidden treasures. But that’s changing year-by-year.
This weekend’s open house welcome more visitors than ever before, with around 7,000 people walking through its gates.
It’s a packed house, but the owners wouldn’t have it any other way.
“There’s a lot of farmers here in the valley that have alpacas and we want to support all of them,” Budd says.
Alpacas are usually bred for their thick, waterproof fur, which are used to make socks and hats, among other things.
Maybe it’s the free-grazing alpacas or the terrifying – but tame – grizzly bear that graced the grounds of the farm over the weekend, but something about the scene made even the youngest visitors contemplative.
“Well, all animals are, in their own way, have something special about them. Something different,” said nine-year-old Emma. “Humans can never match… the strength and the amazing responsibility that pets have.”