World’s Fair Park was full with people and llamas alike for the inaugural Great Llama Race, coordinated by Casa De Sara, an international non-profit with headquarters in Knoxville. The event was held Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and included a parade, costume contest, local entertainment and venders along with the foot race.
The family-friendly event generated a lot of buzz among llama owners and non-owners alike. The uniqueness of the race was what drew Molly Denson, junior at the University of Tennessee to the race.
“It’s really sweet,” said Denson, who has never been in contact with a llama. “I really want to pet [a llama] but I haven’t yet.”
Casa De Sara, coordinator of the event provides education, health care and nutrition to impoverished children locally and internationally. All proceeds will go to sponsor their elementary school in La Guardia, Bolivia.
“It’s been really fun, it’s been a long, long process since this is the first time,” said Kim Brown, intern for Casa De Sara. Brown interviewed with Ally Ketron, assistant director and Lori Santora, CEO of Casa De Sara back in September. “It’s just so interesting I’ve never heard of anything like this until I met [Ketron and Santora]. It was just crazy to me ‘I thought how is this going to work’, but it has.”
For the race, local celebrities, such as Mark Anthony from Star 102.1 and John Becker from WBIR, were paired with a Knoxville school and a llama provided by Southeast Llama Rescue. The race involved five to six llamas in five heats with the final heat determining the winners. The winning schools won a percentage of funds raised to go to a project of their choice. Southeast Llama Rescue also receive a percentage of the funds raised.
In addition to the race, there was a llama parade, llamas in costumes a children’s section and crafts. Llama owners also allowed attendees to take pictures and pet the llamas.
“I’ve been dealing with the llamas all day and it’s been really fun,” said Brown. “They’re such sweet animals.”
“We didn’t know how it would turn out,” said Besty Chastain, member of South East Llama Rescue and llama owner. “There was a good turnout of people, the llamas did will with their costumes and it turned out to be a good day so, hopefully they do it again next year.”
First place winner was Bearden High School with there llama Millie. Coming in second place was Powell Middle School with llama CoCo and third was Austin East High School with their llama Princess.
Edited by Zach Dennis