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Donkeys race to celebrate Jamaica's 'Emancipendence'

Published:Sunday | August 10, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Shane Osbourne (left) outrides Kirkland Jones (right) in the second race of the day during the Donkey Races Festival in Top Hill District, St Catherine, on Emancipation Day 2014.
Phillip Barrett (left) outpaced John Dawkins to win one of the events during the Top Hill Donkey Races Festival.
A few of the entrants in the donkey races are inspected prior to activities getting under way.

Rasbert Turner, Gleaner Writer

Racing enthusiasts who came in their numbers for the annual Emancipation Day Top Hill Donkey Races in St Catherine earlier this month were duly entertained.

A visit to the rural farming community saw scores of patrons flocking the sides of the narrow road, which was transformed into a 200-metre racing track.

Those who spoke with The Sunday Gleaner said they made the journey annually to enjoy their favourite pasttime.

"We have been coming here for the last five years, and we are coming all the way from St Ann. This is real enjoyment for the family. We are drawn back to our roots. It is all good," Jacqueline Cargill said.

Promoter Percival Bair told The Sunday Gleaner that the much-attended show continues to grow each year, and it helps to motivate the effort.

"The show started in 1994, and just grew for all to be entertained. The number of donkeys, as well as riders, has increased, and we love it," Bair told The Gleaner.

There was a break during a downpour, but not even the shower could dampen the spirits of those who turned out for the occasion.

The 'beast of burden' was indeed the highlight of the occasion, and it was sheer excitement for the patrons.

Among those in attendance was Robert Pickersgill, government minister and member of parliament for St Catherine North West.

"I want to put it officially on the entertainment calendar," Pickersgill said. "I have been here every year for the last decade or more, and it is a great way to be entertained."

He added: "The rustic nature of the community has added to the donkey racing, so while it is a small area, we are trying to see how much improvement can be done to keep it in this community."

The day belonged to Kirkland Jones, who won several races on donkeys, such as StarBoy, Free Style, Speedy, and Long Distance Stulla.

Things reached fever pitch when there was a tie with Ricardo versus Will - it took a replay to see who was the winner.

Photos by Ian Allen/Staff Photographer