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Prunes gets a companion

Brief by Central Staff

Pack-Burro Racing – March 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

As best we know, there’s only one burro monument in the world — the Prunes memorial on Front Street in Fairplay.

It will soon have a companion, which will display engraved brass plaques with the names of every Fairplay pack-burro race winner since the contests began in 1949.

The Western Pack Burro Ass-ociation had been raising money at a slow clip, with $520 for the marker. Then everything came together at the annual dinner last year in Leadville, with another $650 coming from members and sponsors.

Construction should start when the ground thaws in Fairplay; if they also wait for a calm day without wind, it will never get built.

Pack-burro racing is Colorado’s only indigenous sport, but the 2000 season will start on April 2 with the 20-mile Yucca Derby in Columbus, N.M.

(Since Alaska was a territory when Japan occupied several of the Aleutian Islands during World War II, Columbus is the only place in the United States to be occupied by a foreign army during the 20th century. It happened on March 9, 1916, when Pancho Villa made a brief invasion from Mexico.)

Last year’s race at Platoro (near the headwaters of the Alamosa River in the San Juans) worked out so well that they’re planning another one on June 10.

The firmly scheduled races are the World Championship, July 30 in Fairplay, and the International Championship, Aug. 6 in Leadville.

There’s the Triple Crown Race scheduled for Aug. 12 in Buena Vista, but that’s in conjunction with Gold Rush Days, and at the moment, nobody’s sure there will be Gold Rush Days this year.

Among the possible races are July 15 in Frisco, June 24-25 in Cripple Creek, and some other weekend in Central City.

If Ass-ociation President Sue Conroe has her way, the racers will look more “Old West” this year. Generally, they’re decked out like modern runners in Lycra. She’d like to see some bandanas and period costume to add to the spectacle, although she’s not insisting on hob-nailed boots.