The venue for the 2019 Gold Rush Days Aug. 10-11 has changed to the Buena Vista River Park, said BV Chamber of Commerce marketing director Jamie Billesbach.

Centered around Buena Vista’s Pack Burro Race, which starts on East Main Street and moves through the Midland Hill trail system, many of Gold Rush Days’ festivities have taken place across U.S. 24 in McPhelemy Park.

This year, the chamber announced last week, the nexus of the event will be moved to the soccer field and surrounding area by the Arkansas River – and closer to the Barbara Whipple Bridge, where spectators can see the race’s frontrunners make a final dash to the finish line.

“We are excited to announce that Gold Rush Days is continuing to grow and will be bigger and better than ever,” Billesbach said.

Billesbach said the move “offers all of our East Main and South Main Street businesses the opportunity for increased sales and awareness.”

Benefits of the move only begin there.The new venue – with its open space – allows the festival to be all inclusive with an easy flow between vendors, music and re-enactment events.

It also offers lots of space to grow in the years to come and is a safe (fenced all around), family friendly place to celebrate our history, the summer season, shop and dance the day away.”

Camping will also be available to accommodate out-of-town guests, she said.

Burro racing’s final leg of Triple Crown is Sunday

The Buena Vista race is the final leg of the Triple Crown in Colorado’s official heritage sport, following races in Fairplay and Leadville on the two previous weekends.

Last year’s race in BV saw the crowning of a new Triple Crown winner in Kirt Courkamp and burro Mary Margaret.

This year’s Triple Crown series has already made history with only one of its three races in the books so far, and may still have more surprises in store.

Brad Wann, the race director for the Western Pack Burro Ass-ociation, said that 96 racers signed up for the long and short courses in Fairplay last weekend – a record for participation in the 71-year-old race.

Sunday’s race also marked the first time in history that the race has been shortened because of snowpack still lingering at the top of Mosquito Pass, he said.

The winner of the Fairplay race was a newcomer to the sport, Marvin Sandoval, racing alongside a miniature burro named Buttercup. If Sandoval can repeat his performance in Leadville and Buena Vista, the sport will have its first-ever mini Triple Crown winner, Wann said.

“I don’t think I’ve seen a bigger crowd in 10 years,” said Wann. “The success Fairplay had this weekend was epic.”

Donkeys in the race range in size from miniatures to nearly horse-sized mammoths, but don’t let looks deceive you – a mini named Crazy Horse is the single winningest donkey in the sport’s history.

Win the Poop Drop Lottery and win big

After the burros take off from Main Street at Colorado Avenue (in between the Trailhead and the Roastery), spectators have the opportunity to win cash prizes by racing mini burros themselves between Colorado and Court streets, a poop-scooping race and a Poop Drop lottery.

Wann said that the Poop Drop, sponsored by Black Burro bikes, will divide the starting stretch of the race course into a grid. Contestants will be able to buy squares on the grid, and whichever square has the most poop on it earns prize money.

Half of the Poop Drop proceeds go to Chaffee County Search and Rescue North. Any square that hasn’t been claimed by the race’s start will be claimed by SAR, Wann said.

The poop-scooping race will have contestants run to the other end of the street to grab shovels and gardening implements, some better suited to the task than others, and trash bags.

Whoever has the heaviest bag and the end of the race wins.

Wann said that the race is still looking for sponsors for the civilian mini burro race, as well as sponsors for some individual donkeys.

Sponsorship isn’t limited to businesses; weddings, anniversaries and birthdays are all perfect opportunities to “put your name on the side of my ass and have some damn fun,” Wann said.

If you are interested in sponsoring with the pack burro race, contact Wann at or 303-906-2269.

Chamber grows music partnership with Lariat

Music curated by new GRD partner The Lariat will begin at the river park soccer field at 11 a.m., Saturday with Mama Magnolia and continue both days with Gingerbomb, Whitewater Ramble, Boot Gun, Mo’Champipple and Bruce Hayes and Ragged Mountain Bluegrass.

That evening from 6-9 p.m., blueswoman Barb Maxey will be playing a free show at The Lariat. Then at 10 p.m., The Fritz will be playing at the Lariat for a $10 entry fee.

Also Saturday are performances by The Madams of Central Colorado at the BV Heritage Museum, who illuminate the worlds of fallen women in humankind’s oldest profession – and one of Buena Vista’s major industries during the late 19th century.

Eddyline brings beer

to Gold Rush Days partnership

Along with a number of food trucks and vendors that will be setting up shop on the field, new GRD partner Eddyline Brewery is sponsoring a beer garden.

The greater square footage of the Buena Vista River Park area allows the festival to bring in arts and crafts makers from around the county and state including knife makers, potters and makers of musical instruments, Billesbach said.

Family offerings continue to bloom

The Buena Vista Circus will be providing entertainment throughout the day, with noon shows both Saturday and Sunday and face painting, tumbling and balloon twisting, Billesbach said.

“Family and kiddo events include Eurobungee, water bubbles, dunk tank, bouncy house, face painting, BV Circus and Chaffee County Fire Protection District activities,” she said. “

In addition, hula hoops and bubble-blowing activities will be offered by the music stage. Of course there will be ice cream, snow cones, popcorn and lots of delicacies and vendors offering toys, games and clothing.”

GRD celebrates mining history

The theme of Gold Rush Days is mining history, as is the burro race which recreates the trials and tribulations of miners and their four-legged partners, now in its 71st year. So, naturally, attendees will have the opportunity to sign up for service in the Civil War through a slate of reenactments and demonstrations by First Colorado Company D.

“Significant to Gold Rush Days is the Civil War Encampment and the variety of reenactments and show that occur over the 2 days. With the added space the encampment is 80 feet by 80 feet where First Colorado Company D shares with attendees how one lived back in the 1860s. They actually camp at the venue for 2 days,” she said.

A performance written by Jim Vowell of Fairway Independent Mortgage and performed by Buena Vista High School students will depict a wild west shootout.

On Sunday morning, following Cowboy Church led by Carole and Randy Barnes, Company D will present a 1860s tableau vitiate titled “Yield Not to Temptation or a Promise to Mother.”

The burro race itself launches off from in front of the BV Roastery at 10 a.m, Sunday.

Toilet seat races will be held immediately afterwards, Billesbach said.

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