Great American Road Trip: St. Cloud, Minnesota, yak meat and Hoopers’ Christmas Tree Farm

When we pulled into the driveway of our friends’ house in St. Cloud, Minnesota, as part of our Great American Road trip to Montana, we didn’t have any plans except to visit. The last time we saw them was at our house in Columbus, and since then they had moved from State College, Pennsylvania to St. Cloud.

As with any visit, there’s always something new to find out. about the town where friends land. People who live there know the insider info that may not show up in a guidebook. Such was the case when I found out were were having yak meat for dinner.

I’ve been to Nepal where yaks seem as common as cows. While there, I never had yak meat. As it turns out Hoopers’ Christmas Tree Farm in Cold Spring, Minnesota has a herd of 60 or so yak making this the largest yak herd in the eastern part of the U.S. Who knew?

Our friends have toured the farm and loved it. John Hooper, the farm’s owner has worked with The Yak Company in China as a consultant. While there, he lived with Tibetans and, as a result, acquired an interest in Tibetan culture. My friend says that the ranch reflects this exchange.

Hooper sells his yak meat at various farmers’ markets in the area. We ate yak sausages, hot dogs and marinated meat. All quite delicious. Here’s a link to the page that tells all about yak farming.

Photo of Hooper and one of his yaks is by Lucille Guinta-Bates who was kind enough to email it to me.