Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect The Donkey Derby Days Committee as the supporting group behind the festival’s future and call for necessary funds.

(CRIPPLE CREEK, Colo.) — Due to a shortfall of gambling income resulting from the pandemic, the annual celebration of Cripple Creek’s beloved historic donkey herd, Donkey Derby Days, may not happen, unless they can supplement the needed funds.

According to a press release from the City of Cripple Creek on behalf of The Donkey Derby Days Committee (the Committee), the annual Donkey Derby Days celebration began in 1931 to honor donkeys left behind by miners after more modern equipment replaced them.

The original orphaned donkeys were adopted by the city and protected by City Ordinance. Fifteen donkeys make up the herd today and are cared for by the nonprofit all-volunteer “Two Mile High Club,” established in 1932, to guarantee continued care for these beloved creatures.

Each year, the Club and the City of Cripple Creek celebrate its rich history with these famous “town mascots,” but the Committee said the shortfall of income forced the City to pull funding from Donkey Derby Days and other events in town to supplement the care of the donkeys.

Now, the Committee hopes that generous donors and sponsors will help make up the $30,000 shortfall historically designated for the festival, otherwise Donkey Derby Days may not happen.

Click here to make a tax-deductible donation in any amount specifically to the Donkey Derby Days fund.

“We rely heavily on volunteers for all fundraising and day-to-day care of our donkeys,” said Curt Sorenson, President of the Two Mile High Club. “We rely on a core of a dozen club members and officers supplemented by volunteers who assist with fundraising events and other requirements like trimming donkey hooves to get the job done. We have a huge responsibility, managed by a few folks not only for the benefit of the donkeys but for the entire community.”

The Committee said ultimately, the Two Mile High Club exists to provide care for the donkeys. When money is short, celebratory causes are not a priority.

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“Donkey Derby Days is a time for this entire region to celebrate the rich mining history of Cripple Creek and the historical representation of times past with the Cripple Creek donkey herd,” reads the Committee’s press release.

The festival was almost scrapped this year once already, after the Two Mile High Club said they realized right before the holidays that they did not have enough volunteers. At a meeting right before Christmas, Sorenson said a large group of volunteers came forward to uphold the tradition.

Now, all that remains to make this celebration one to remember is a little generosity from those who appreciate the Cripple Creek donkeys and the incredible community that supports them.

The Committee said the Two Mile High Club has pledged about a third of the budget needed for the three-day festival in Cripple Creek in August. The Committee is tentatively planning a kickoff event on Friday evening, August 11, followed by an entire weekend of celebration. The Committee hopes to feature concerts, historical re-enactments, vendors, attractions, food trucks, and potential for mining and other competitions throughout the weekend.

Based on attendance history from prior years, the Committee estimates that 35,000 people will attend the weekend event.

“The Newmont Mine and most of the casinos have been very supportive of our efforts,” said Wendy Wood, Vice President of the Two Mile High Club. “Many of them ‘sponsor’ donkeys year-round. We hope others who enjoy our efforts and have fun at Donkey Derby Days will help us ensure a celebration this year by contributing financial support.”

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, email inquiries to Annie Valades, Donkey Derby Day Committee chairperson, at ccddd2023@gmail.com.