On the same day Churchill Downs was holding a little derby you may have heard of, Rochelle was holding a race of its own – on a much, much smaller scale.
Running in his first race ever, Henry defeated two other challengers to claim the title of the fastest Chihuahua in town during Rochelle’s annual Cinco de Mayo celebration last Saturday. “He didn’t do any special training to get ready,” his owner, Diane Eichhorst of Oregon, joked. “He just ran.”
Henry got a little break when one of the dogs, perhaps intimidated by the vociferous crowd, decided he didn’t want to run.
So how did the 5-year old celebrate his big win?
“We’re going to a bar,” Eicchorst laughed.
Her friend, Marsha Baker, also of Oregon, would have raced her pet, but officials wouldn’t let her.
“Pigs can’t race,” she said of her two-and-a-half year old Juliana pig, Chewy, who she carted around in a padded buggy.
“We got him when he was 4 pounds and we took him everywhere,” Baker said. “So he’s used to crowds.”
And treats and attention, which the 43-pounder got plenty of Saturday.
Animals were only one of the highlights of the celebration, which was held at Cooper and Atwood parks for the first time. In the past, it has been held in the downtown business district.
“It’s so much nicer here,” one attendee, Ashley Bell, said. “There’s more space and you can get more activities in.”
One of those activities was caricatures provided by Genoa artist Kevin Berg.
“We’ve never done it before,” Bell said, explaining why she and her whole family got one. “It looked like fun.”
Heather Simo said they were all very pleased with the result. “My husband got his and someone had to take a picture of it,” she said.
Another activity was painting the blocks of the walking path, which 4-year-old Sofia Lazaro decided to do. Her cousin, Mateo Belmonte, started to paint one next to her, but decided it was more fun to run around the squares instead.
Across the street, in Cooper Park, was something you don’t see often. A police officer – in full uniform – played goal keeper in an informal soccer match between the police department and first responders against local youth.
Officer Elvis Baneski said he had a little disadvantage since he was weighted down by 25 pounds worth of equipment, including a vest and gun belt. “It wasn’t very comfortable,” he joked.
On the other side of the field, Alexis Ortega, didn’t have that problem. “It was fun,” the 10-year old said about playing the police.
Under a beautiful blue sky, with plenty of music, food, dancing, piñatas and a variety of booths, you could say it was fun for everyone.