A pair of highly-recognizable local figures were hanging out together at Burro Days in Fairplay last weekend, posing for photos and drawing constant attention from visitors of all ages.
The human half of the dynamic duo, who prefers to be referred to only as “Red Tail” for the purposes of this story, is known for his character acting, his dedication to preserving local and regional history and his comprehensive understanding of, and passion for, all things related to burros.
Hailing from Idaho Springs, Red Tail is regionally recognized for his character acting. He performs in a number of roles, most of which are designed to inform and educate others – especially kids – about our colorful local past.
Red Tail’s character acting started to take off in earnest after he gained considerable popularity as a story-teller for Keystone Lodge. Red Tail’s willingness to immerse himself fully into his roles and his mastery in the art of entertaining youngsters make him a hot commodity year-round – including Christmas.
“I’ve stayed busy performing around Christmas time for about the last 39 years,” Red Tail said with a subtle wink. “I decided long ago that if I can’t make a living in this image, then I might as well shave and work at a bank somewhere. Fortunately, I’m still making a living, and my characters continue to evolve over time.”
Red Tail’s four-legged sidekick, Jack, is perhaps equally recognizable in local circles. Jack has provided countless thrills as a dominant force in World Champion Pack Burro Racing events, participating in seven Burro Days races with three first-place finishes, two second-place finishes and two fourth-place finishes.
“Jack is champion partly because he has a great attitude,” Red Tail explained. “He has a nice long stride for a burro. He is also sort of a loner, which is a good thing. He is not afraid to break free and leave the group, and he has a way of really getting focused and finishing strong once he gets about an hour from home in big races.”
Red Tail says he has been involved in region-wide burro racing for the last 30 years, and prides himself on breeding competitive racing burros.
“Seventeen of the last thirty winners here in Fairplay have been my burros,” Red Tail said.
Many of the burros in Sunday’s events, for example, are locally owned and rented out to participants for specific races. Red Tail’s burros are obviously in high demand, especially during the peak of the racing season.
When asked to describe the winning formula for winning high stakes burro races, Red Tail was happy to oblige.
“You want to keep the burros comfortable and calm throughout the race,” Red Tail said. “You want to let your burro run as part of the group because that’s what they are accustomed to doing.”
Red Tail knows a thing or two about staying calm and comfortable in his own skin, no matter what character he adopts on a given day.
“I am lucky to live a full life, spreading love, knowledge and history with others along the way,” he said. “It makes me happy to give animals productive, happy lives, and to help give kids a sense of history.”