Renwick holds Donkey Daze

RENWICK- While there are at least a dozen activities taking place in during the annual Donkey Daze celebration in Renwick, there is one that isn’t on the list – riding a donkey.

Guests however, can pet one, watch one and if they spend a little time with Jon Nissen and learn about the festival’s namesake.

The most common question he fields: What is a donkey actually?” he said.

The answer, in scientific terms, is Equus Africanus Asinus.

“They’re their own species,” he said.

His are a miniature variety. He once used them as team animals to pull wagons, but he’s now only breeding them, mostly for sale. He often has to give the curious a lesson in genetics and chromosomes.

“If you cross them with a horse you end up with a mule,” he said.

It was his using the animals to pull as a team that helped kick off the festival 25 years ago.

“I was the only attraction the first year,” he said, “I came into town and did a kiddie parade with my donkey hitch and about 30 kids on bikes.”

The event grew and has continued since even though the number of donkeys in attendance is down a bit. This year, he brought Halleglo and her unnamed baby.

Alyssa Lacey, 7, of Renwick, was enjoying the day with her mom, Marta Lacey. New to the community, it was the family’s first Donkey Daze.

“I’m enjoying watching the kids have fun,” Marta Lacey said, “Everybody here is very friendly.”

She liked having the events a few blocks from home, she said. They were going to give the pedal tractor pull a try and later, attend the street dance.

Taylor Kunert, of Renwick, is a member of the community’s fire department. He remembers the first Donkey Daze but never thought that he would be helping children spray water into a fire house or otherwise being part of the celebration.

One thing that did have him a little perplexed; he was still dry.

“I’m surprised,” he said.

For Caden Hankins, 7, of Renwick, no special preparations were needed to hop onto a pedal tractor and move it and the sled over 26 feet down the course.

He said it was his third competition.

The secret to success ?

“Don’t get excited,” he said.

That advice, and a strong pair of legs combined a lot of effort earned him second place in his age division.

An ecumenical church service at 10 a.m. today will wrap up the festivities under the big tent on Main Street. In case of rain, it will be held at the Methodist church.