Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Down on the farm

Cook’s Country Connection opens May 3 for fifth season

Marcus White
Posted 4/10/19

COOK - When Lois Pajari lost her store, the Cook Dollar Barn, in 2013, the question of what to do next lingered on her mind.

“My sister said I already had a petting zoo. Now I just needed to …

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Down on the farm

Cook’s Country Connection opens May 3 for fifth season

Posted

COOK - When Lois Pajari lost her store, the Cook Dollar Barn, in 2013, the question of what to do next lingered on her mind.

“My sister said I already had a petting zoo. Now I just needed to make money from it,” Pajari said. “We talked about different ways to do this, from wedding nights, to music, to vendor shows.”

The idea wasn’t new. Local schools had asked several times to visit the farm, even when Pajari was still running her store. In 2013, Pajari finally said yes.

“As I watched the school bus come down the driveway, I thought, ‘it would be nice to find a way to make a living from this,’” she said. One month later, her store burned to the ground.

Cook’s Country Connection officially opened the following year and since then what started out as a petting zoo idea has transformed the Pajari farm into a local attraction bringing in concerts, students, mental health workers, and day campers.

For this summer, three concerts are planned along with the now annual tradition of weekly farm yoga sessions every Thursday.

Vendors will be around to do shows in the big red barn with hot food being served.

“We cram a lot in to the summer,” Pajari said. “Last year we did our first camp, it was the highlight of the summer. We dissect eggs and get the scoop on poop.”

Kids also get to go rock hunting in a gravel pit and spend time with the farm’s goats, cows, chickens, pigs and many more animals.

With the success of last year’s single camp single, Pajari said this year there would be three opportunities for area kids to come out to the farm.

It’s not just area children who learn at the farm. For the second year, students from the Vermilion Community College veterinary technician program will be doing sections of their lab work there.

“It has been a really good learning experience for the students and good help for me,” Pajari said. “Having them onboard has been amazing.”

With the diversity of the animals at the Cook’s Country Connection, Pajari said the students get to work with a variety of species, learning how to give vaccinations among other simple medical procedures.

The farm has even been opened to Lutheran Social Services and Range Mental Health to bring clients to experience the farm as part of their programming to help mental health patients in the region.

And for those who could benefit from the animals in a therapeutic environment but can’t make it to Cook, such as nursing home patients, Pajari said she takes the animals on the road.

Pajari said all of these programs continue to expand.

“We just try and book events for all ages,” she said. “It’s a chance to unplug and go outside.”

Visitors to the farm are encouraged to look at the website, www.cookcountryconnection.com, and look for event listings on the farm’s Facebook page.

For those who can’t make it to the farm, a select number of events are also planned around the region, including Duluth. Pajari said to watch for Facebook postings on when those will happen.

Pajari added its unlikely the fun will stop anytime soon out at her family farm.

“Everything has changed,” she said. “When I look at the early pictures, it’s just constantly in motion. I don’t know if it will ever stop.”

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