No, this is not the title to a children’s book. It’s not a joke or some clever double entendre. Weekend before last there were actual, honest-to-god llamas running around on the World’s Fair Park. And not just two or three of the buggers. There must have been at least thirty or more.
The occasion was The Great Llama Race which was really more than just a race. Booths and tents were set up all over the fair site and the action got underway with a Llama parade which was followed by heats of four Llamas at a time and then a final heat for the top four. I’ll be honest: Llams are better runners than I expected. I thought they might be like mules with longer hair and bigger humps, but not really. They don’t seem to mind moving.
Sponsored by the Southeast Llama Rescue located in Luray, Virginia, all the Llamas were rescues. Who knew there were Llamas needed to be saved? Not me. I can’t even imagine what they are saved from. Do people eat Llamas? I would guess not. The folks at the Llama rescue place also rescue Alpacas. I really would not have imagined a need for that in these parts, but I guess there is.
The event was sponsored by Casa de Sara which is an organization located in Knoxville which raises money to help provide nutrition, health care and education to children across Latin America. They do extensive work in Bolivia where – wait for it . . . the Llama is the national animal! Don’t ever say again that you don’t learn things by reading this blog!
So, the event offered local schools a chance to pair up with a Llama, decorate it and race it against the other schools. The winning schools got a percentage of the funds raised to use for projects of their choosing. And, of course, everyone got to have fun in the mean time.
On that particular Saturday, there were at least three major events happening downtown. This race on the World’s Fair Park, the Chalk Walk on Market Square and Rhythm and Blooms in the Old City. That’s a lot for a pretty compact little downtown. It occurred to me that day that the three groups of people involved in each were probably, for the most part, completely unaware the other groups were doing their thing.
Also likely, is the possibility that most of the people in Knox County, outside of downtown, didn’t realize that any of the three were happening. There is so much happening in the center city that a person would have to clone themselves several times over to catch it all.
It’s getting harder to be a downtown-vibrance-denier. I know they still lurk about, insisting that nothing good happens downtown and I’m not sure how we convince them otherwise. Maybe we could start by showing them photographs of Llamas.