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Butter Days tests donkey-riding prowess

The man with the white cowboy hat drawled instructions at the throng of novice donkey jockeys. Don't pull the donkey's hair. Don't pull each other's hair. Don't get behind the donkey's rear end. "If you get bucked off your donkey, what's the firs...

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Millerville Butter Days featured donkey races, in which riders paid $100 for the privilege of racing donkeys. The donkeys weren't all that cooperative. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)

The man with the white cowboy hat drawled instructions at the throng of novice donkey jockeys.

Don't pull the donkey's hair. Don't pull each other's hair. Don't get behind the donkey's rear end.

"If you get bucked off your donkey, what's the first thing you do?" asked the man, CJ Cordell of Wisconsin-based Dairyland Donkey Ball.

He demonstrated: Roll sideways. Protect your most important parts.

"I'm scared," a young woman confessed.

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Then it was time for the races. Jockeys led mounts with names like Killer and Earthquake down the grass track to a white starting line. Crowds attending Millerville Butter Days watched from the safety of the stands.

The donkeys lined up, more or less, but when it came time to mount and race, any semblance of cooperation from the donkeys ended. They turned around and began heading the other direction. Riders slid off in all directions as animals crow-hopped, tugged mouthfuls of grass and in general demonstrated why there is no donkey version of the Kentucky Derby.

Butter Days drew visitors from nearby cities as well as from far away.

Family members drove sisters Josephine Haiden Sperl, 92, of Minnetonka, and Isabelle Haiden Barker, 93, of St. Cloud, back to the city where they grew up as two of 11 siblings on a farm. They posed for photos with the Kuhn brothers they used to babysit.

More important, they were there to pick up 40 pounds of Millerville butter. They have to figure out a way to get most of that to their sister who lives in California.

"Millerville butter is the only butter as far as she's concerned," Barker said.

Related Topics: MILLERVILLE BUTTER DAYS
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A new episode is released every Tuesday and Thursday, giving readers a brief look at the stories found in Wednesday's and Friday's papers.
A new episode is released every Tuesday and Thursday, giving readers a brief look at the stories found in Wednesday's and Friday's papers.
Organizers hope to make this an annual event.
A new episode is released every Tuesday and Thursday, giving readers a brief look at the stories found in Wednesday's and Friday's papers.