Leadville celebrates mining and Old West history with annual Boom Days festival

Steve Sunday | Special to the DailyIn mining competitions, competitors slam down axes to drive spikes, or they use sledgehammers to pound the drilling steels their partners hold by hand.
Steve Sunday | Special to the Daily |

If you go …

What: Leadville Boom Days.

When: Friday, Aug. 5, through Sunday, Aug. 7.

Where: Leadville.

Cost: Most activities are free to spectate

More information: Visit, or call 719-486-3900.

LEADVILLE — The 66th annual Leadville Boom Days festival takes place today through Sunday in Leadville, bringing to life the Old West and celebrating the town’s 1880s gold- and silver-rush heritage. Marshals and outlaws roam the crowd and a parade rolls down the avenue for more than an hour, plus there’s mining competitions, Wild West gunfights and ladies and gentlemen in Victorian costumes.

Events include two days of live music, a food and craft fair with more than 100 vendors, pancake breakfasts, a car show, motorcycle games, a rod and gun show, a pie-eating contest and egg toss, Cowboy Church at the Tabor Opera House on Sunday morning and two nights of Boom Days dances.

Children’s activities

Kids can pretend to be miners and join a mucking race, grabbing a shovel, loading gravel into an ore cart and pushing the cart to the finish. They can pan for gold, make crystals, go on a scavenger hunt and learn to identify Colorado rocks, all at the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum. Or they can hop around with old-fashioned sack races and three-legged races.

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Burro racers embark on a 21-mile or 15-mile trek leading sometimes-stubborn burros on ropes. The long race follows four-wheel-rive roads to the top of Mosquito Pass at nearly 13,200 feet, while the short course loops nearby Bald Mountain. In keeping with the sport’s mining history, all burros must wear a pack with prospector’s paraphernalia, including a pick, shovel and gold pan. This 68th running of the International Leadville Pack Burro Race is the second leg of the Western Pack Burro Association’s Triple Crown.

In the mining events, competitors hand-carry a 135-pound jack leg drill to score holes in a boulder, or they race to see who’s the speediest at shoveling a ton of crushed rock. They slam down axes to drive spikes, or they use sledgehammers to pound the drilling steels their partners hold by hand.

Boom Days is a dog-free event. Doggie day care and overnight boarding are available from Cold Nose Warm Heart Pet Care; call 719-486-2014 for reservations or visit leadville The most up-to-date schedule of events is available at http://www.leadvilleboom, or call 719-486-3900.

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