PIONEERTOWN – Modern communication systems will take a back seat to the carrier pigeon this week during the twelfth annual national wild burro race, to be held Thursday, Friday, and Saturday between Pioneertown and Big Bear Lake, a distance of some 40 miles.
Because of the rugged terrain to be covered by the wranglers and their wild charges, over 150 carrier pigeons will be available to carry information on the progress of the race, according to John Hamilton, retired rancher of the area, who will furnish the pigeons.
Hamilton, who is president of the Pioneertown Equestrian Trails Association, said “this not only marks the first time this annual event has originated in Pioneertown, but it also will be the first time that carrier pigeons will be used to carry information back to the starring line.
The wild burro race, which climaxes two weeks of festivities for the two towns, jointly celebrating “Old Miners Days,” will get underway at 9 a m. Thursday at the OK. Corral in Pioneertown. The wranglers must push, pull, tug, cajole, berate or tease 85 unbroken, untamed, wild burros down the hill from Pioneertown to Yucca Valley, a drop of some 700 feet, and across the desert following the 29 Palms Highway east to Old Woman Springs Road, then north to the Flamingo grocery store.
Because of the added distance of the race this year, due to the start in Pioneertown, the burros will be trucked from Flamingo into Lucerne Valley for the arduous, two – day, 35 mile trek up the mountain to Big Bear. The race will be on three legs, and each daily winner will receive 25 dollars, with 15 dollars going to second, and 10 dollars to third place.
Each wrangler who completes the race in Big Bear will receive $lO a day for the three day race, with the overall winner receiving $500 dollars. Second and third place finishers will be awarded $200 and $100.