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Reindeer Games at Festival of Trees

When Audrey Evans retired from being a mail carrier six years ago, she may have stopped delivering Christmas cards, but she still wanted to celebrate the holidays in a big way. That’s where Dancer and Cupid came in. The two reindeer, born at the Reindeer Games Ranch in Wisconsin, became part of the Evans’ family about a year ago. Audrey and her husband Terry have raised the females – one month apart – from infancy to young adulthood.



Now six- and seven-months old, Dancer and Cupid will appear at the Festival of Trees at Harrah’s Convention Center on Saturday, November 20th, from 10 a.m. until noon. Patrons at the festival will be able to pet the reindeer and have photos taken with them.

Why females? “The female reindeer keep their antlers through Christmas,” informs Audrey. She goes on to joke that the females also “don’t have to stop and ask for directions” on Christmas Eve when they’re guiding Santa and his sleigh. Cupid, the “runt” of the litter and Dancer, the largest in her litter, were bottle-fed with lambs’ milk for several months after the Evans brought them home to their farm near Logan, Iowa. Much preparation was needed to accommodate the animals, such as installing an 8-foot high fence – “so they can’t fly over it,” kids Terry – but, actually, so that they can keep out whitetail deer which carry diseases to which the reindeer are susceptible and not immune.

Reindeer are not native to North America. They’re originally from Siberia and were imported in the 1800’s to Alaska because of the decline of caribou at the time. Reindeer have been domesticated for over 3000 years and are typically used like a horse to ride and to help plow fields. The Sami people, indigenous to far northern Europe, use the animals to help with hunting. In this country they are considered an exotic animal.

Dancer and Cupid have blended into the Evans’ family like any of their other pets. They come when they’re called and get along well with the dogs even though Cupid may be a tad bit bossy with the family cat. They give “reindeer kisses” and keep Audrey company in her kitchen when she’s baking. Their diet consists of dandelion leaves, apple tree twigs and Purina Reindeer Chow. A particulate favorite is graham crackers.

Terry and Audrey Evans would like to train the reindeer to pull an old-time Amish sleigh but Dancer and Cupid will need to be at least two years old before they can do that. In the meantime, they are content to be a part of farm life on the 40-acre “hobby farm” and will be available for bookings through the holidays.

For more information about the reindeer, visit www.reindeerwoods.com.
For more information about the Festival of Trees, visit www.bluffsfestivaloftrees.org.

-end- metroMAGAZINE



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