by BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Dakota Koen and Tiffany Wroblewski were strolling through the Eudora Farms petting zoo tent expressing their amazement at all of the exotic animals.
“I have never seen a zebra before,” Wroblewski said. She turned her eyes slowly to another area and added: “I have never seen a camel before except on television.”
Those kinds of comments are not uncommon at the extraordinary petting zoo that Salley, S.C. based Eudora Farms has been bringing to the Cole Chevy Mountain Festival for the past several years. Kim and Mark Nisbet established their farm in 1998, and became part of the Mountain Festival attractions a few years later. According to Kyle Hurt, festival general chairman, Mark Nisbet was in Bluefield to help open, but then gave Billy Sullivan his first opportunity to manage the “Red Unit” show this year.
“We go all over the East coast,” Sullivan said. “Every place we go, people get to see animals they have never seen before. “I grew up with Mark’s step-son. We’re like best friends. I’ve been working with the animals at the farm for six years and I’ve even been up here at this show to manage the camel rides for the past few years. Mark wanted me to see the difference between working with the animals and being a manager.”
Although he is managing the overall petting zoo, Sullivan was also taking guests for rides on his camel named Clyde. “He’s six years old,” Sullivan said. “Clyde is the first camel I ever broke to ride. Every camel is different. Clyde has about the same disposition as Bubba, the other camel I used to bring up here.” He said that Bubba is 19 years old.
“I am an animal lover,” Sullivan said. “Eudora Farms is all about caring for the animals. We never keep animals out on the road for longer than three weeks at a time before we switch them out.” Eudora Farms has one giraffe, but it didn’t make the trip to Bluefield this year. Still, there are plenty of exotic animals in the show.
“I love my job,” Sullivan said. “All of our staff takes pride in the care we give to the animals. I love farm work. It gets me outside every day,” he said. “Too many kids in my generation spend too much time with social media,” Sullivan, 22, said. “They should just go outside and spend some time walking in the woods.
“Every time we come up here, I just love seeing the beautiful mountains and the forests around here — even along side the road,” Sullivan said. “People need to get outside. There’s way more outside than you can imagine.”
Sullivan said that the farm will be traveling to New Brunswick, N.J., in about 10 days. “We’ve been there before. The people really enjoy seeing the animals,” he said.
— Contact Bill Archer at firstname.lastname@example.org