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Mancos Burro Fest showcases history and burro-inspired artwork

The Mancos Burro Fest takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. (Courtesy)
There will be a burro parade and obstacle course; 15 artists will display art pieces based on the animal

The third annual Mancos Burro Fest will take place June 18 in Mancos from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Fifteen burros will be featured in a parade, obstacle course and as part of a unique art project, said organizer and local artist Veryl Goodnight in an interview with The Journal.

The free event begins at 10 a.m. with the Grand Parade of Burros in Boyle Park. Burros and their owners will be decorated in colorful costumes or period packing gear.

Then burros will participate in a timed event “race” through a burro obstacle course at the park.

But this is not a burro race such as you might see in Leadville. Speed is not required.

Goodnight said it is a challenge of trust and partnership between the burro and its handler to work their way through many natural obstacles that a burro might encounter getting to the mines.

There will be plenty of seating for spectators and a reserved section for special-needs attendees. A food vendor and restrooms will be available.

Artists will create burro-inspired pieces at the Mancos Burro Fest. (Courtesy)

Each burro was paired with an artist six weeks in advance of the festival, Goodnight said.

“Giving the artists time to create their pieces and connect with the animal adds a lot of depth to the artwork,” Goodnight said.

After the obstacle course the burros will walk down Grand Ave to their artists’ specific booth.

From 1-4 p.m., the burro-inspired artwork will be showcased ranging from paintings, sculptures, metal work, glasswork and photography. Burros will also pose for a painting or sculpture and provide plenty of photo opportunities.

The art will be available for sale, and local art shops will feature burro art.

The festival also intends to highlight the history of burros, which were relied on in Mancos’ early mining days. For example, the obstacle course shows off the usefulness and skills of the burro, Goodnight said.

Two new events were added this year, she said. At 2 p.m., Dave Daney will give a packing demonstration next to the Mancos Common Press on Grand Avenue. Then at 2:30 p.m. at the same location, Monique Williams will offer a discussion on how to adopt a wild burro.

“Burro adoptions increased since we started this event, so that has been a nice outcome,” Goodnight said.

The charming and adorable burro will be featured during Mancos Burro Fest. (Courtesy)

The featured artist for Burro Fest this year is Durango artist Elizabeth Kinahan.

She is known for highly realistic paintings of animals that capture their essence. Her work is featured at a studio at 1027 Main Ave. in Durango. Kinahan will have a booth with other artists on Grand Avenue for the Burro Fest.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to see artists at work, painting and sculpting from a live burro model,” states a news release.

Goodnight is well known for her paintings and sculptures of equines and other animals.

When she acquired a burro of her own, she began to explore the history of using burros during the early days of mining in Southwest Colorado, and was inspired to create the festival.

Local burro packer Olga Little, who was the only woman packer in the San Juan Mountains, came to Southwest Colorado in 1885 and spent 34 years packing food and supplies for the miners into the mountains.

‘The festival has evolved and is becoming a signature Mancos event,” Goodnight said. “It’s a hoot. Burros are very useful; plus they are very cute and charming.”

Participating local artists are Ann Stringfellow, Steve Williams, Betsey Krill, Miki Harder, Marilyn Kroeker, Ginny Getts, Cheryl Harley-Volz, Janis Connell, Nancy Byers, Samantha Combs, Elizabeth Kinahan, Silvina Guerreiro, Karen Kristin, Alana Coley and Steve Wolff.

Dogs are not allowed at the event because they make burros nervous.

For more information, visit the event website at mancoscreativedistrict.com.