Camel Races Return To Virginia City In September

August 11, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Glenn Franco Simmons' photo of the Virginia City Camel Races.Virginia City Camel RacesMy lovely wife Kathleen at the 2022 Virginia City Camel Races. Posted by Glenn Franco Simmons

The legendary, fun-filled frolic known as the Virginia City Camel Races will return to The Comstock Lode in September to The Comstock Lode from Sept. 9-10.

“The camels, ostriches, zebras and good old-fashioned family fun returns with the 64th International Camel & Ostrich Races, presented by Sahara Las Vegas and the Grand Sierra Resort, Sept. 8-10, right here in historic Virginia City,” states the Step Back In Time Virginia City website. “This hilarious and family-favorite tradition started as a prank between two newspaper editors more than 60 years ago and remains as silly and fun as its origin.

Glenn Franco Simmons' photo of the Virginia City Camel Races.Virginia City Camel RacesThe young woman in this photo won one of the ostrich races. While they may be known as the Virginia City Camel Races, ostriches are a big part of the races as well. You may download this photo for free or purchase a copy, if you would like. “The International Camel & Ostrich Races bring the laughs for the whole family as jockeys, both professional and amateur, race their camels, ostriches and zebras around the horseshoe track to the roars of the crowd. You never know what might happen! It’s a comical racing spectacle guaranteed to leave the entire family laughing. You can even catch a ride on a camel ~ a photo op not to be missed.”

I can attest to it being a photo op! My lovely wife Kathleen rode a camel last year.

Glenn Franco Simmons' photo of the Virginia City Camel Races.Virginia City Camel RacesThe young woman in this photo won one of the ostrich races. While they may be known as the Virginia City Camel Races, ostriches are a big part of the races as well. You may download this photo for free or purchase a copy, if you would like. “With four shows to choose from, there’s no reason to miss this uproarious event,” according to the website. “Friday night, Sept. 8, enjoy Hot Camel Nights, an evening show with discounted rates for locals. Saturday, Sept. 9, catch the 10 a.m. or the 2 p.m. show and the up-close and personal Camel Hump to C Street. Then Sunday, Sept. 10 is Family Day with a show at noon and the first 100 kids ride a camel for free. Gates open an hour in advance of each show start.”

When one takes the time to somewhat seriously consider what camel and ostrich races have to do with The Comstock Lode, the revelation is that it is continuing The Comstock’s, at times, quirky legacy.

After all, part of Virginia City’s heritage is mining and quirkiness.

Glenn Franco Simmons' photo of the Virginia City Camel Races.Virginia City Camel RacesThe young woman in this photo won one of the ostrich races. While they may be known as the Virginia City Camel Races, ostriches are a big part of the races as well. You may download this photo for free or purchase a copy, if you would like. “Today, the tradition has ingrained itself as a piece of the town’s identity,” according to the website. “Celebrate the event that brings camels, ostriches, zebras and a whole host of other critters to this historic mountain mining town along with the daring jockeys and crowds to cheer them on.”

The camel races have quite a legacy.

“The first camel race in 1959 was the result of a sort of rivalry between the Territorial Enterprise, Virginia City’s newspaper (known for being Mark Twain’s first writing gig) and The San Francisco Chronicle,” the website notes. “The editor of the Territorial Enterprise printed a fictitious story about camel races in Virginia City as a hoax, and the editor of the Chronicle reprinted it. The following year, not happy about being made a fool, The Chronicle sent a team to race in Virginia City with a camel borrowed from the San Francisco Zoo ~ thus beginning a tradition.”

Glenn Franco Simmons' photo of the Virginia City Camel Races.Virginia City Camel RacesThe young woman in this photo won one of the ostrich races. While they may be known as the Virginia City Camel Races, ostriches are a big part of the races as well. You may download this photo for free or purchase a copy, if you would like. Over the years, the event has evolved, attracting a diverse cast of participants, ranging from thrill-seeking locals to professional jockeys, drawn by the allure of these peculiar competitions.

It is rumored that riders come from all over the country ~ and sometimes the world ~ eager to tame the temperamental and charismatic camels.

Glenn Franco Simmons' photo of the Virginia City Camel Races.Virginia City Camel RacesThe scene at the start of the 2022 Virginia City Camel Races! You may download this photo for free or purchase a copy, if you would like. The camel races have also brought attention to the conservation efforts aimed at protecting these remarkable animals. Organizers of the event work closely with local and national animal welfare groups to ensure the well-being of the camels, providing proper care and treatment.

As camel-race fans approach the 2023 edition of the Virginia City Camel Races, anticipation is high among locals and racing enthusiasts. With every passing year, this unlikely oasis in the Nevada desert continues to capture the hearts of those seeking a taste of unusual entertainment and a slice of unique history.

Glenn Franco Simmons' photo of the Virginia City Camel Races.Virginia City Camel RacesThe scene at the start of the 2022 Virginia City Camel Races! You may download this photo for free or purchase a copy, if you would like.

 


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