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Donkey Daze draws crowd to Renwick

Larson says annual celebration is growing

June 3, 2012
By SANDY MICKELSON ( , Messenger News

RENWICK - A chilly breeze may have lessened the enjoyment of waiting for the annual Donkey Daze parade to start Saturday morning in Renwick, but it gave 24 teams assembled for the volleyball tournament a cooler place to play.

The sun came out to celebrate, however, giving close to 500 people milling around the eastern Humboldt County town, population 242, just one more reason to smile and enjoy the day.

"Hey, pop a wheelie on that thing," a man yelled from the crowd to a parade participant driving an older John Deere tractor. Both men laughed, but the wheels stayed on the street.

If a child missed picking up candy thrown from almost every vehicle in the parade, adults were quick to gather in the sweets.

Jaxen Engstrom and Jordyn Lavire, both of Renwick, rode in the parade as the little king and queen. Names of all 5- and 6-year-olds who participate in the kiddie parade are put in a hat, with the two youngsters whose names were drawn out invited to ride in the big parade.

One of two annual activities sponsored by the Boone Valley Betterment Association, the Donkey Daze celebration began in 1989. The group also puts on a Christmas celebration for the community.

Sharon and Ron Larson, of Renwick, have been chairmen of the event for eight years, with help from previous chairmen Donna and Larry Liscum and a host of other volunteers.

"We've got it down pat anymore," Sharon Larson said. "We started in January and have about three meetings. We all know what we're supposed to do."

She said John Nissen, who owns the Lazy N north of Renwick, brings donkeys to the celebration every year.

"These aren't your normal little stray donkeys," she said. "He raises them to sell."

While celebrations in some small towns may be dwindling, Donkey Daze continues to grow, Larson said.

"Instead of getting smaller, it's getting bigger. We started a street dance. They added water fights. Last year we also added the inflatables, and we have a state sanctioned kiddies' pedal pull. This year we have 24 teams playing volleyball on four courts."

She credited the community, residents and businesses alike, for donating much of the money to get the celebration going each year.

"The community is great," she said. "We couldn't do all of it if it wasn't for the community."

To give children something to do after the parade, a tent full of activities kept them occupied as they waited for a turn at riding on the Smiley Face train. Pioneer sponsored the kids' games; Gold Eagle sponsored the train.

Bill and Fran Kraft were in charge of the kids' games, and Fran sat at a small table, passing out prizes to winners. Some toddlers preferred to keep playing. Two-year-old Taylor Johnson, of Renwick, was so enamored of the rubber ducky pond, she kept playing in the water, even getting her 4-year-old sister, Kayla, to join the fun.

While these two splashed and grinned, 3-year-old Mason Gartin glared at the world and Renwick's small place in it after he had a mustache painted on his face. It was a day for kids - well, kids of all ages.

Karate demonstrations were offered by members of the Midwest Shotokan Karate studio, who practice in Renwick, and area firefighters pulled out the big hoses for a water fight on Main Street.

An all-school alumni banquet took place at the Methodist Church Saturday evening, and classes from throughout the years came back to Renwick for reunions. A street dance with Saucy Jack took place on a blocked-off Main Street on Saturday night.

The three-day celebration opened with a Fire Department open house Friday night and ends today with an ecumenical church service at 10 a.m. at the Renwick Methodist Church.

And when Donkey Daze is finally over, the Boone Valley Betterment Association members can start thinking about Santa Claus coming to town.



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