Tamara and Brian Osterman with alpaca products
Tamara and Brian Osterman show off alpaca products.

Couple will add alpaca offerings to Victorian Christmas at the Courthouse

Sometimes those late night musings turn into the real thing. They did for Brian and Tamara Osterman, owners of Suri Serenade Alpacas.
The Stillwater couple are the owners of the small business that brings alpaca yarn and clothing to the Stillwater Farmers Market, and now the Victorian Christmas at the Historic Courthouse Nov. 18-20.
The couple and their alpaca products will be part of the 24th Annual Gala Fundraiser 6:30 to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, and the bazaar that will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, and Sunday, Nov. 20.
The events will feature 30-plus vendors offering food, clothing, and other holiday gift ideas.
The Ostermans’ offerings are yarn and clothing made from fiber from alpacas that they own, and from U.S. alpaca cooperatives and alpacas from as far away as South America.
Brian Osterman was the one with the late-night revelation, about 10 years ago. He was thinking of starting a side business, to have in addition to his full-time day job. A late-night TV infomercial introduced him to alpacas. An internet search of the animals soon generated 100 pages of information, and a conviction that he had found the side-line that he was seeking.
“I, of course, thought he was nuts,” Tamara Osterman said, “because you can buy a car for what an alpaca costs.”
But the couple continued their research, which brought them to an alpaca farm in Cannon Falls, not far from the home in Hastings where they lived at the time. An open house visit during the National Alpaca Farm Days at Bluff Breeze Farm in Cannon Falls soon convinced the couple, and they bought and boarded their first alpacas.
The hope of having a hobby farm with alpacas was sidelined with a job loss, but the couple continued to own and board their alpacas. Soon, they had fleece from their animals, which Tamara sorted, with the best going to a local mini fiber mill to be made into yarn. Today, they love the animals, enjoy wearing alpaca clothing, and believe in the virtues of the incredible warmth and softness of alpaca, and wanted to help promote it.
That led to a booth at the Stillwater Farmers Market where the Ostermans offer yarn made from the fleece of their alpacas, along with clothing and throws made in the United States and in South America.
It is all about customer demand, Brian Osterman said. Once people saw the yarn, they began asking for additional items made from alpaca fleece. Some of the garments and throws that the Ostermans sell are made at a fiber pool in Massachusetts which collects fleece from farms across the United States. The Ostermans contribute to the fiber mill, and receive finished items in turn. Other items come from Bolivia, Chile, or Peru, through a fair trade program that provides income directly to the artisans who produce the items.
Tamara Osterman has been attending the Victorian Christmas at the Historic Courthouse since the couple moved to Stillwater four years ago. “I couldn’t believe how bustling with activity” the event is, she said. When other vendors at the farmers market encouraged them to be part of the event, it seemed like a good fit for the couple and their alpaca products. Tamara has already purchased the costumes that the couple will wear for the event.
Advance ticket sales for the gala are $40 per person or $70 per pair, and may be purchased by calling the Historic Courthouse at 651-275-7075 or ordering at www.co.washington.mn.us/vchc. Tickets will also be sold at the door for $50 per person. All proceeds from ticket sales benefit the Historic Courthouse Restoration Fund. 
For those who cannot attend the Friday night event, the Victorian Christmas Bazaar will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20.
The Washington County Historic Courthouse is at 101 W. Pine St. in Stillwater. For more information, call 651-275-7075 or email historiccourthouse@co.washington.mn.us.  

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