Mancos Gets Creative with Burro Race and Art Festival

What do you get when you combine a burro race with an arts festival? No, this isn’t a bad joke. What you get is the Mancos BurroFest, a celebration of the hardworking pack animals and the artists who love and paint them. You’re watching the Local News Network, brought to you by Big O Tires and TruWest Auto of Montezuma County. I’m Wendy Graham Settle. Famed Western artist and Mancos resident, Veryl Goodnight, loves burros. She keeps her burro named donkey on her Mancos area ranch and she frequently features them in her paintings and sculptures that depict the history, culture, and wildlife of the Rocky Mountain West. So it seemed to her to be a dang fine match to combine her love of burros with her love of art into the first ever BurroFest in Mancos, Colorado.

Burros have been used for inspiration by artists really since prehistoric times. There’s a lot of burro-type images on cave walls. And it’s been one of my major inspirations in my own career for 50 years now. And Mancos is right next to mining districts and Colorado has a state… their official summer sport is burro racing. I don’t know if you knew that or not. And so I had the wild idea that Mancos would be ideal location for a burro race. But if we could just start by giving everybody the idea by just having a couple of burros here and a few artists drawing from, but it blossomed.

The first BurroFest in 2019 drew more than 400 spectators who watched 13 burro contestants race through an obstacle course. The fun starts when a handler tries to coax a stubborn donkey through an obstacle, when the donkey doesn’t want to go. After the race, burros were paired with artists who spent the afternoon painting and drawing images of their donkeys for the day. The Second Annual BurroFest had to be canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic, but Goodnight and the Mancos Creative District are reviving the event this summer. Now, if you’re wondering whether burro racing is a real sport, it is. At least according to the Western Pack Burros Ass-ociation, which offers conflicting stories about how the sport started. One story claims that two minors in the Leadville area both discovered the same load of gold and race back to town their burros fully packed to file the first claim. Another legend says two drunk miners bet on which of their burros was stronger and faster. And that’s how the sport came to be. The Pack Burro Ass-ociation hosts eight races in eight Colorado Mountain Towns each summer. And in 2012, the Colorado Legislature declared pack-burro racing as Colorado’s official summer heritage sport. This year’s BurroFest in Mancos will start at noon on Saturday, June 19th, with a grand parade of 15 burro contestants, followed by an obstacle course race. The burro and handler with the fastest times and the least number of penalties will win a signed giclee print of Goodnight’s Burro Brigade painting. And Mancos Creative District will co-host the event.

We get to close off the street and have the artists with the donkeys or burros, whatever you want to call them, and really have a demonstration of art. And then we have The Common Press will be open for people to come in and do small burro prints on their own, to have something to take home. And then we’re doing the painted turtle is doing pin the tail on the donkey. So we also have an event for kids.

Admission is free. Harrison says the district’s mission is to boost economic activity in the Mancos area through various artistic events. And the district hopes that spectators will come to the BurroFest, shopping galleries, enjoy a lunch at its restaurants, and give Mancos a shot in its economic arm.

This was not designed to be a fundraiser for the Creative District, it’s designed to bring people here, have a good time, and support the Mancos economy.

To learn more about the Second Annual BurroFest in Mancos on June 19th, visit mancoscreativedistrict.com. Thanks for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I’m Wendy Graham Settle.

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