'Running of the Llamas' event returns in a big way
What was once a customer appreciation night for one Hammond restaurant has turned into a weekend-long collaborative effort among Davis Street businesses.
The "Lucky 13th" Annual Running of the Llamas will take place Friday, Sept. 11, through Sunday, Sept. 13. A weekend of activities is planned in addition to the traditional llama races.
When Don Fowell and Cedric Ellingson purchased the Hammond Hotel, 820 Davis St., die-hard llama racing fans worried that it would be the end of the Running of the Llamas. The Running of the Llamas was started by then-Hammond Hotel owner Paul Kremer in 1997. It has evolved from a few llamas walking around the building into a multi-heat, adrenaline-packed adventure. The event, previously held on Thursday evenings, draws hundreds of spectators from the area and across the country.
Rather than ending the tradition, Fowell and Ellingson added onto it. The hotel owners, along with the three other bars, community organizations and the library have joined forces to make the running into a bigger festival.
Included in the weekend's activities are kids games, drinks, food and activities.
Of course, visitors will get an up close look at llamas and alpacas.
"Llamas will be everywhere," said Sheila Fugina, llama owner and co-organizer.
In addition to scheduled events, a llama art show will be held at Stone Soup gallery (1025 Davis St.) both Friday and Saturday. Live music and specials will be offered at all the bars.
Friday will kick off llama weekend in Hammond. Among the highlights are Rib Fest and a screening of the Running of the Llamas documentary.
To start the day is a nine-hole golf tournament at the Hammond Golf Course. Registration begins at noon. Cost is $30 per person for the four-person teams.
There will be contests at each hole.
"It's more of a fun tournament," explained Dusty Anderson, co-organizer.
Following the golf tournament is Rib Fest, which will run from 4-8 p.m. at the Village Park, on Klein Drive behind the Village Hall. At least five restaurants, including Curly's in Burkhardt, Bo's 'N Mine in River Falls, Parkside in Hammond, Olson's Meats in Woodville and the Phoenix in Baldwin, will compete to be named best ribs by independent judges.
Visitors will be able to test the ribs for $3 per sampling. Drinks will also be available for $3 each.
Live music will be provided by Ken Wanovich in the Village Park throughout Rib Fest. Of course, llamas will be wandering about with their handlers.
At dusk, the Running of the Llamas documentary by Heidi Freier will be shown at the Village Park on a projector screen. The 30-minute film follows the people and llamas that make the running possible each year. Those attending the free screening are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on. In case of rain, the screening will be in the upstairs of the Hammond Community Library, 850 Davis St., Hammond.
Saturday's festivities start at noon with llama and kid activities.
While the llamas will be roaming around again, kid activities will be based at the Hammond Community Library. Among the offerings is face painting, making llama ears, coloring, a piñata and make your own llama. Activities will run until 2 p.m. In case of rain, they will be moved to the upstairs of the library.
Llama activities, including the Llama Lounge at Parkside, llama fiber spinners and other demonstrations at Hammond Hotel, llama bean guessing contest at Ras' on Main (855 Davis St.) and the Alpaca Pen at Doll House (1055 Davis St.), will also run from noon-2 p.m.
A short parade will start at 2 p.m., traveling from the Doll House to the Hammond Hotel.
The feature event of the weekend, the Running of the Llamas, will begin at 3 p.m. Sixteen racing llamas and their handlers will pound down Davis Street, from Charlotte Street to Broadway Street, in five heats. A final championship heat will determine which llama will be awarded the bucket of greens and a year of bragging rights.
Live music is scheduled before and after the running by the St. Croix Central Bifocal Band.
A breakfast will be held at all four restaurants in Hammond from 8-10 a.m. for a free will donation. Proceeds will go to Midwest Farm Animal Rescue & Roberts UCC/St. Croix Central Food Pantry.
For more information about the Running of the Llamas events, visit