Donkey Derby Days 2023 Facing Financial Challenges

Popular Event in Seek of Financial Assistance


Donkey Derby Days Committee


The annual Donkey Derby Days celebration in Cripple Creek, Colorado, 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” leading the way. An ongoing shortfall in income from gambling machines since the beginning of the pandemic forced the City of Cripple Creek to pull funding from this event and others in town. The Committee hopes that generous donors and sponsors will make up the $30,000 shortfall historically designated for this town festival, or Donkey Derby Days may not occur.


Our donkeys need care every day. It costs approximately $2,000 per donkey annually for food, shelter with electricity, medication, veterinary, and farrier care. The Two Mile High Club partly sponsors the town celebration. Still, ultimately, it exists to care for the donkeys as they have faithfully for 91 years. Curt Sorenson, President of the Two Mile High Club, said, “We rely heavily on volunteers for all fundraising and day-to-day care of our donkeys.   These donkeys need to be fed and cared for every day all year. With the city’s additional $10k in historic preservation funding this year and last, we have some relief. 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.” Ultimately, the Two Mile High Club exists to provide care for the donkeys. When money is short, celebratory causes are not a priority.


The donkeys are ambassadors for the City of Cripple Creek and an economic asset. The first question that summer visitors tend to ask in Cripple Creek is, “Where are the donkeys today?” because the donkeys roam the streets freely from mid-May to mid-October. They enjoy the attention and the healthy treats that visitors provide. 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. This annual festival usually draws more than 10,000 people a day, a boon for the City of Cripple Creek and all the surrounding cities of Woodland Park, Victor, Florissant, and Divide. It’s common for some out-of-state visitors to plan their vacation around this fun festival. So, the economic impact is far-reaching.


As many in the nonprofit sector can attest, volunteer help can be hard to come by, and many groups are dwindling. Before the holidays, the Two Mile High Club realized they couldn’t put on the Donkey Derby Days because they no longer had enough volunteers. “Then, at our meeting before Christmas, a large group of volunteers appeared out of nowhere and collectively raised hands to continue the celebration. It was a ‘Christmas Miracle’ that restored my faith in humanity,” Sorenson said with a gleam in his eye. When the Donkey Derby Days Planning Committee meets, there are so many ideas put forth and so much enthusiasm that nothing can stop this group from succeeding, except perhaps a lack of funding.


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. The annual parade up Bennett Avenue may feature a mounted color guard and flyover, parade floats, bands, a wild west shootout, and much more, all preceding the famous donkey races, an annual crowd favorite. 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 learning more about the Cripple Creek Donkeys, go to our website:


To make a tax-deductible donation, in any amount specifically to the Donkey Derby Days fund, visit:


Send all sponsorship inquiries to Annie Valades, Donkey Derby Day Committee chairperson, at

Now the question remains. Will Donkey Derby Days take place in 2023? Only time and donations will tell, but the Committee is optimistic that funding will materialize as it plans this historic and exciting event.