FFA Lifestyle

Jackson County donkey basketball: A 52-year FFA tradition

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Looking for a new FFA fundraising event? Try Donkey Basketball. It’s an annual event one Kentucky FFA chapter has been hosting for the past 52 years.

“It’s a tradition here,” said Candrea Bingham, Jackson County FFA advisor. “Our students look forward to participating each year and our community really gets behind us and supports what we do.”

Donkey basketball has been a popular fundraising event in small town America since the Depression. Participants get to ride donkeys and play basketball while raising money for their organization.

Courtesy of Jackson County FFA

Each year the Jackson County FFA chapter partners with Buckeye Donkey Ball to put on the show. Alumni members, state FFA officers, and other local chapters are invited to participate in the event. Sometimes the competition pairs upper classmen against underclassmen or state officers versus alumni, and occasionally local law enforcement also participate. Music has been added to the mix and the game is now broadcast on the school’s TV channel and local radio station. At halftime, children 11 and under can get free rides.

“This is a great night of entertainment, laughter, and fun,” Bingham said. “The students work hard to put on a great show, and the donkeys are highly trained and great at what they do.”

Courtesy of Jackson County FFA

And it’s a tradition Bingham knows well. A graduate of Jackson County High school in McKee, Kentucky and a former FFA member, Bingham attended donkey basketball games in elementary school and middle school, and rode in them as a student.

An agricultural teacher for six years prior to returning to Jackson County, this was Bingham’s first opportunity as an advisor to see the success of the annual FFA fundraising event. And it did well. This year the Jackson County FFA chapter sold 630 tickets, bringing in $2,400.

Suzann Estridge helps with the halftime donkey rides. (Photo by Shawn Estridge)

The money generated from the game helps to fund jackets for members that cannot afford one, to buy chapter supplies, and to fund the chapter’s costs to attend FFA competitions.

And the community support for the game has been tremendous.

“Some supporters never miss a donkey basketball game,” Bingham said. “It is a great event for our community and serves as a fundraiser for us.”

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