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Mancos Creative District to host 4th Annual BurroFest June 17

An artist paints one of the burros at BurroFest last year. (Mancos Creative District/Courtesy photo)
BurroFest highlights the donkey’s contribution to the early growth of Southwest Colorado and will include music, food, art and more

On Saturday, June 17 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Mancos Creative District will host the fourth annual BurroFest in downtown Mancos.

This event, which is free to the public, was started in 2019 after local, world-famous artist Veryl Goodnight, who is a donkey owner herself, came up with the concept of BurroFest to celebrate the animal that helped contribute to the growth of the Four Corners and Southwest Colorado.

According to the Burro Fest news release, donkeys were key to the history and growth of Southwest Colorado, as they were often to use to help in mining operations in Durango and Telluride.

One such miner who utilized donkeys was Olga Little, a woman who mined ore in the area.

Olga Little with some of her burros. (La Plata County Historical Society/Courtesy Photo)
A burro suited up for work in 2022. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)
Veryl Goodnight hugs her burro named Donkey during Mancos BurroFest in 2022 in Mancos. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
The burro will be featured during Mancos BurroFest June 17. (Courtesy photo)
Grand Avenue was busy for Mancos BurroFest in 2022. Jerry McBride/Durango Herald
Burros at Mancos BurroFest had everybody smiling in 2022. Jerry McBride/Durango Herald

At BurroFest, donkeys adorned in costumes or period equipment parade down Mesa Street after the Mancos Blue Jays band plays “The Star Spangled Banner” and the burros compete on an obstacle course before going to their assigned artist booth on Grand Avenue where they will pose for an artist.

“In 2019, the Mancos Creative District invited a group of burros and artists to come together to see what would unfold. We laughed, we painted, we sculpted, we enjoyed every minute of burro silliness, and we decided to do it again,” Chelsea Lunders, executive director of the Mancos Creative District, said. “This year, the Mancos Creative District holds its fourth annual celebration of this cute, furry animal with art demonstrations, an animal art market, burro obstacle course and other burro antics, food trucks, music and more.”

BurroFest not only celebrates donkeys, but also highlights the rich artistic culture of Mancos. Artists from the area creating from many different mediums use the burros for inspiration, while onlookers can view the art in real-time. Those in attendance can purchase art available at the event as well.

“Each artist may choose to be paired with a burro to create special artwork. This year’s obstacle course is run by burros pairs and in heats and ends with a grand champion award. The 12 burros participating come in a variety of sizes from mini to mammoth,” Beach said.

The demonstrating artists will be Susan Matteson, Samantha Combs, Alex Krebs, Steve Williams and Nancy Byers.

Other artists who will be present at the event are Shawn Ahkeah, Dana Aldis, Lauren Czapliski, Ginny Getts, Miki Harder, Marilyn Kroeker, Betsey Krill, Elizabeth Kinahan, Mary Mrdjenovich, Jenn Rawling and Kay Salwen.

The fest will also include a burro photo exhibit, burro kissing booth, adoptable burros, burro card printing at Mancos Common Press, food trucks, beer garden and live music from Nathan Schmidt and Jeff Morehead, as well as the Monkberries.

There will also be children’s activities including fused glass art projects with artist Nancy Byers.

The burros in attendance are also given a short biography so that visitors can get to know the furry celebrities as they peruse the various art booths.

One of the burros named Hamilton’s bio says, “In a puff of smoke and a swirl of glitter comes Hamilton! Everyone's favorite diminutive dragon is here to share some treasures with each of you. He hopes you'll all join him for fun and fabulousness at his lair upon his completion of the obstacle quest.”

There will also be photography displayed from various photographers in the area.

“The Mancos Community Center will host a retrospective photo exhibition featuring art by renowned artist and Mancos BurroFest founder Goodnight and photographers Gerry Baumann, Paul Boyer, Julie Otto Pickett, Rebecca Syndergaard and Lynn Stuart. Photography sales benefit the Mancos Creative District,” Beach said.

The schedule for the day starts with the burro grand entry parade at 10 a.m. and the obstacle race at 10:30.

The artists will be showcasing their work and Mustang Camp will be highlighting their adoptable burros from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The beer garden will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the live music will begin at 12:30.

For the safety of the burros and other furry friends, Beach asked that dogs not be brought to the event. Donkeys are often used to protect livestock from predators such as coyotes, and they may perceive dogs as a threat.

After the obstacle course, there will be a live theater performance of the mellow drama Rain Burro Oracle, directed by Marianne Marchesano.