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Annual BurroFest to take place June 15 in Mancos

The annual BurroFest is expected to attract around 1,000 attendees this year. (Mancos Creative District/Courtesy Photo)
This year’s event promises to be bigger and better

On Saturday, June 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Mancos Creative District will host the annual community favorite BurroFest in Mancos Boyle Park and on Grand Avenue.

This “much-beloved and quirky festival” will provide a full day of family-friendly activity. This year, the BurroFest planning committee shared that the festival will have more artists, more activities for the children and “definitely more silliness.”

“We are very excited about this year because it’s going to be bigger and better than ever,” said Stephanie Hallam, Mancos Creative District event and marketing manager. “We really look to the community of creatives that we have, and so this has been a fun, quirky event that ties in burro history and relationships in the southwest region and even Colorado at large.”

BurroFest was created in 2019 after world-renowned artist Veryl Goodnight expressed the idea of holding a festival to celebrate the burro, one of the animals that played an important role in the growth of Southwest Colorado.

“Donkeys or burros have long been key to the history here, dating back to mining days in Durango and Telluride,” organizers said. “BurroFest 2024 will be an exciting celebration of this lovable, legendary animal with art demonstrations, a maker’s market with over 20 vendors, live bands and even a BurrOlympics themed obstacle course with 10 teams running.”

Some of the returning “crowd favorite” donkeys are Coco, Hamilton, Freya La’BRAYa and Alice. Sixteen burros, including four ambassador burros, will be present.

“We are introducing burros ambassadors this year, and those are basically burros that will get to mingle throughout the crowd,” Hallam said. “We wanted to make it so kids could come up and touch the burros and allow them to be exploratory and adventurous.”

Burros will be “models” for 10 artists who will have the opportunity to create their art live during the festival. The animals artists who will participate this year are Shawn Ahkeah, Dana Aldis, Sarah Drummond, Alys Hansen, Miki Harder, Elizabeth Kinahan, Susan Matteson, Jenn Rawling, Cynthia Sadler and Dai Salwen.

Fifteen to 20 other artists will be featured in the Maker’s Market.

“We have watched some artists really grow since they started working with live animals,” Mancos Creative District’s TJ Zark told The Journal.

Visitors will see the artists working with their live art models, meet the four ambassador burros and cheer for teams competing in the BurrOlympics.

Children may participate in crafts, henna, a bouncy house, face-painting, library story time and other art-based activities.

“If you wanted to spend a day in the park, bring your chair, bring your kids and spend the whole day at Boyle Park,” Zark said.

The BurroFest schedule will start with a Mancos Public Library story time in the park at 9:30 a.m. with the official welcome and the national anthem at 10 a.m.

From 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., there will be obstacle course that will be run by the burros, with awards to follow. The band Hotel Draw will play from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., and will be followed by the band Alex Graf’s Super PAC from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

All-day activities include a Maker’s Market on Grand Avenue, animal artists in the park, beer and food trucks and kid’s activities.

There will also be a raffle and silent auction. The raffle will be for gallery and store gift cards and products downtown. The silent auction items are donations from local artists, and they can be viewed next to the merchandise tent at the event.

Food trucks that will be present include Chuckwagon, Mona Makes, Subversion and Yia Yia. There will also be a beer garden.

“Downtown galleries, studios, restaurants, and businesses will be open and featuring their own entertainment, food and festivities. This annual event draws people from Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and all over the state, including the Front Range. We expect over 1,000 attendees in 2024 so book your hotel or accommodations early if you are coming from out of town,” organizers said.

Organizers also ask that visitors who bring their dogs keep them on a leash and at least 10 feet from the burros at all times, as burros are naturally inclined to go on the offensive against animals that they deem as predators.

While the event is free and open to the public, Zark shared that donations are welcome to help keep events like this going in the Mancos area via the Mancos Creative District.

“There will be opportunities to make a donation so that we can continue in the future,” Zark said.