National Donkey Fair celebrates 59th year in the State of Mexico

Did you know that there is a place in Mexico where donkeys have been celebrated with an unusual festival for almost sixty years?

This week, residents of Otumba, located north of Mexico City in the state of Mexico, celebrated the 59th annual National Donkey Fair (Feria Nacional del Burro), an event in which donkeys dress up in elaborate costumes and participate in races. On the last day, May 1 (Labor Day), the donkeys compete for the prize for the best costume.

A VW Beetle painted as a donkey in Otumba, MexicoA VW Beetle painted as a donkey in Otumba, Mexico
It’s not a party in Mexico until a tricked-out vocho, or VW Beetle, comes along. (Mario Jasso/Cuartoscuro)

This year, 14 costumed donkeys took part in various activities starting on April 27. Their outfits were as elaborate and varied as pirate donkey, hot air balloon donkey, carnival donkey, bride and groom donkeys, Santa Claus donkey, Shakira donkey and more. On Wednesday, thousands of visitors gathered at the burródromo to crown the winners.

First place went to witch hunter donkey. The award-winning animal wore a hat and a costume consisting of a cart with a figure of Jesus Christ, lollipop branches and a ‘cell’ in which the donkey locked at least three witches.

Second place went to alebrije donkey and third place to carnival donkey. The winners took home 20,000 pesos, 15,000 pesos and 10,000 pesos respectively.

The event also held other activities such as Polo On A Donkey and beam competitions.

A donkey in costume at Otumba, Mexico's National Donkey FairA donkey in costume at Otumba, Mexico's National Donkey Fair
One of the participants in this year’s National Donkey Fair. (Mario Jasso/Cuartoscuro)

Otumba hopes his annual festival will raise awareness about donkeys, Juan Carlos Chávez, the fair’s organizer, told the Associated press in a 2016 interview.

“Donkeys are beautiful animals,” he said. “People say they don’t understand (us)… but they do. They are very, very obedient.”

The National Donkey Market has been taking place since 1965. Otumba was once a donkey market during the Spanish colonial period, as it was located at an important intersection on the route to Mexico City. The donkeys transported heavy loads and travelers.

Because farmers now have tractors and trucks, the use of donkeys is declining, and most are kept as pets.

With reports from La Jornada, Milenio And Diario portal