Flightless Birds Race in Brevard, 1935

On July 6, 1935, an ostrich race was held on Main Street in downtown Brevard.

The race pitted two ostriches against each other. Each bird was ridden by a young woman. According to the Transylvania Times, a local newspaper, the two jockeys, Billie Dean and Amie Register, rode without a bridle, saddle or any other sort of equipment.

An ad for the 1935 ostrich race in Brevard. Image from the Transylvania County Public Library.Accounts of the race vary, but an article in the Times before the race said that each 350-pound bird would be blindfolded while the jockey mounted it and that, after the blindfolds were removed, folks weren’t exactly sure what would happen, though the hope was that the birds would race down Main Street toward a railroad bridge and hopefully reach 35 miles per hour.

The race’s victor has been lost to history, but one account mentions that one of the ostriches got off track and ran into a Ford Model T, knocking the rider unconscious, though she soon recovered.

The entire event was a traveling show that had originated in Florida where, again according to the Times, 14,000 people had turned out a racetrack in Miami to watch the race. The paper mentions that Brevard was the 11th town outside of Florida where the race had been held.

A special thanks to the Transylvania County Public Library and Local History Librarian Marcy Thompson for helping us find primary sources for this story. 

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