Burros will run a secret, members-only race

Burro racers cross the Whipple Bridge at the Buena Vista River Park in this 2015 photo.  As in the photo, there will be  no advance announcement so there will be no spectators.


The Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce cancelled the 2020 Gold Rush Days event in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the footrace at the center of Buena Vista’s celebration of the Old West may still go on as a private race among members of the Western Pack Burro Ass-ociation, with no spectators.

Last week Brad Wann, the race director with the WPBA, reached out to town staff with a plan for a burro race in Buena Vista that would be modified to comply with health department guidance, said Ben Eichel, the rental and events coordinator with the Buena Vista Recreation Department.

For 47 years, Buena Vista has been the host of the third leg of the Triple Crown of Burro Racing, Colorado’s official Summer Heritage sport. 

The other two legs of the Triple Crown, races in Leadville and Fairplay, are also typically surrounded by summer celebrations – Burro Days in Fairplay and Boom Days in Leadville. Like Gold Rush Days, Burro Days and Boom Days were cancelled earlier this year.

Wann, however, has been steadfast in his intention to hold races in not only BV, but Leadville and Fairplay as well.

Wann said that the Buena Vista race would not have any spectators.

“These races are members only,” Wann said. “Can’t say much and we do not want these public till after they are done. The moment folks find out that there is a burro race, we will have 10,000 people rushing a town.”

Eichel said that “in order to comply with state and county guidance, the event organizer is treating this event less like a public race and more like a restricted gathering for club members.”

The permit Wann submitted to the town caps the number of participants in the event at 175, Eichel said.

“Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic is one of our greatest concerns and the event organizer has created a well thought-out plan to mitigate safety concerns. Since the safety of our citizens and guests is a paramount concern to the town staff, we appreciate the event organizer’s efforts and understanding in this matter,” Eichel said. “We have forwarded the application to Chaffee County Public Health and will relay any concerns or guidance directly to the event organizer.”

Eichel said that more details about the event, such as the route the race would take, could be released once the permit is approved.

“Like any special event inside town limits, our staff departments are reviewing the application and providing insight and feedback for the event organizer to ensure that public safety remains the primary concern during the event,” Eichel said.