This year marks the 70th running of the burros at Leadville Boom Days, a free 3-day festival to celebrate mining heritage in Leadville.
From Friday, Aug. 2, to Sunday, Aug. 4, Leadville’s historic downtown is full of burros, a big parade, mining competitions, gunfighter skits, Victorian costumes and much more.
Motorcycle games, dances, live music and entertainment, a car show and rod and gun show, kid-friendly activities, and a large food and craft fair are among the many ways to enjoy Boom Days.
Several local sites also are celebrating 140th birthdays this year: The Herald Democrat, Silver Dollar Saloon, St. Vincent Hospital, Tabor Opera House and Twin Lakes Inn.
Each burro racing team is made up of one runner leading a burro on a rope. The burro carries a regulation pack with a mining pick, shovel and pan. Leadville’s races leave from downtown Harrison Avenue on Sunday at 11 a.m. (15-mile course) and 11:15 a.m. (21-mile course).
After a jaunt through the mountains east of town, teams begin returning around 1:15 p.m. (short course) and 3:30 p.m. (long course). In the first race, in 1949, 21 teams left from Leadville to cross Mosquito Pass to Fairplay. Last year, 84 teams jogged down Harrison Avenue, with the long-course teams cresting the 13,185-foot pass before beginning the return to Leadville.
Parade & mining events
Leadville may be a genuine small mountain town, but its Boom Days parade is anything but small. It starts at 10 a.m. Saturday with a flyover from the San Juan Squadron, followed by bands, floats, antique cars, burros and more.
Near the start of the parade, watch for the grand marshal, Don Ferrie, who is being honored for directing the burro race for 30 years.
Mining events run Saturday and Sunday. At the doublejack mining competition, one partner holds a small steel drill while the other partner pounds it into a rock with a sledgehammer. Other competitions involve mucking, or shoveling crushed rock into an ore cart, and drilling into a giant rock.
For the kids
On Sunday, kids can shovel crushed ore just like the miners did, in a mucking competition.
They can pan for gold, do rockhounding, and experience a mine rescue at the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum. Other kids’ activities include old-fashioned games like pie-eating contests, an egg toss and a balloon throw.
Music & entertainment
Live music includes The Valley Cats, a Latin-fueled rock band from Colorado’s San Luis Valley; Leadville rock band Groovespeak; The Barrelors’ signature blend of blues, rock, twang, and funk; and Carlos Washington’s Steel Horse Swing, a Colorado band that mixes western swing with rodeo and cowboy classics. Colorado Springs band Woodshed Red plays a Saturday night concert at Freight.
Performances at Leadville’s historic Tabor Opera House include a Community Talent Show with singing, acrobatic yoga, bagpipes and guitar Saturday at 2 p.m.; the Vail Valley Band with a vocal duet, pop, classic rock, country and jazz Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; and Cowboy Church led by John Peterson on Sunday at 8 a.m.