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Giddy Up to Virginia City’s International Camel & Ostrich Races

Amy Demuth and a Camel
Amy Demuth and a Camel

Picture this: three goofy, yet somehow endearing camels and a few of those crazy-looking, giant flightless birds racing around a track with people either hanging on their backs for dear life or expertly perched as if they’ve done this for years (probably because they have). Yep, that’s the International Camel & Ostrich Races in Virginia City. Sound like a hoot? It is.

Each September the event attracts families from all over the globe to witness this hilarious affair. This year’s event, presented by Dolan Automotive Group, is set for Sept. 9 – 11 and promises enhanced entertainment, although we wonder how it could possibly get any better? With a rock climbing wall, in-arena entertainment and even more vendors, that’s how. You can show up early (gates open at 10 a.m.) and let the kids expend some energy in the Family Fun Zone, then gorge themselves on food, candy and goodies before sitting down and watching the action at high noon.

The races feature a mix of professional camel jockeys (yes, it’s a thing) along with amateur riders racing camels, ostriches and even zebras. It’s truly one of those events where you never know what might happen. Camels going the wrong direction, ostriches spinning so fast their riders fly off… we’ve seen it all, and that’s what makes this event so fun.

A few lucky kids from the audience even get to participate in the races. Emu races arm three kids with brooms and set them out to shoo the birds around the track to cross the finish line. And no, it’s not easy. Then there’s the chicken races, where little kids chase the speedy little birds as they scatter around the arena. Great fun for kids, even more hilarious for the parents.

If your child isn’t one of the lucky few, they can still get their moment by riding a camel before or after the races or during intermission. For $10, kids of all ages (yes, that includes you, Mom!) can hop up on one of these dromedaries and feel like a desert prince or princess. Where else are you going to get the chance to say you’ve ridden a camel? Sunday, Sept. 11 is Dolan Family Day at the races. The first 100 kids in line to ride a camel will get a free pass, thanks to presenting sponsor Dolan Automotive Group.

After the races Friday and Saturday there’s another opportunity to see the exotic animals up close and personal with the Camel Hump to C Street. It’s a parade of sorts with camels walking the historic streets of Virginia City, even entering bars and shops along the way. A worthy photo op, for sure.

Tickets start at $12 for general admission on Friday and $15 for Saturday and Sunday. New this year is kids’ pricing on Friday only, with admission for kids under 12 only $8. For more information on the 57th annual International Camel & Ostrich Races in Virginia City, visit VCCamelRaces.com or call 775-847-7500.

This post was written by Amy Demuth, public relations representative for Virginia City Tourism Commission at RAD Strategies Inc. and more importantly, a camel racing veteran. This post was sponsored by Reno Moms Blog community partner Dolan Automotive Group. 


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  1. This sounds like a lot of fun!

  2. Sounds like a lot of fun

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