Apr 7, 2013

Mule Day!

The Spirit of "Mule Day"
This past week, the city of Columbia, Tennessee, celebrated "Mule Day."  “Mule Day” has been a popular Columbia tradition for nearly 170 years, since the 1840s.  It began as “Breeder’s Day”, a single day livestock show and mule market event held on the first Monday in April.  Over time, “Mule Day” evolved from a single day event into a multi-day festival, attracting thousands of attendees, lasting almost a week.  The heavy involvement of Maury County in the mule industry has caused the event to grow over time into “one of the largest livestock markets in the world.”

Mary Ann and I had selected Mule Day as an event we wanted to attend "one of these years."  This turned out to be the year.  We arose early and did our household chores and got ready to leave home around 11:00 AM.  We had read that Saturday was full of exciting events -- the Mule Pull at noon, followed by the Skillington Draft Mule Show at 2:00 PM.  And of course, there was the possibility of seeing the Mule Queen and her court sometime during the festivities.

Lined up for the beauty pageant...
We headed over to Interstate 65 and turned north.  About 20 miles south of Lewisburg, everything came to a stop.  I can only assume that there had been some kind of serious conflagration ahead, as there was no evidence of southbound traffic.  Something had all four lanes blocked.  I was able to get off at an exit ramp a couple of miles up the road, on highway 373, which took us through Mooresville and Culleoka en route to Columbia.  We followed the sizable crowd to the city park adjacent to the fairgrounds at which most of the events take place.  A short hike later, we were in mule owners' heaven!

There are lots of mules (and horses) at this event -- mule wagons, individual mules being led and ridden.  You have to keep an eye out for mule traffic as well as motor vehicles.  After a few minutes getting oriented, we found the entrance gate and found the center of the junk-food universe!  Fried anything, funnel cakes, kettle corn, and beverages that Mayor Bloomberg wouldn't approve of.  We found a Cajun food trailer and enjoyed a lunch of red beans, rice and Cajun sausage (you don't want to know how it's made...).

Then it was off to the Skillington mule arena, where we saw a number of mules being tethered in preparation for the class judging.  It was a great place for peple watching as well as observing the festivities,  At this point, it was about 70 degrees, partly cloudy, with a gentle southern

breeze -- perfect!  At 2:00 PM promptly, the judging began.  The announcer would call for the class and the animals would be led to the judging area in front of the bleachers -- Jack (the father of the Mule) and Jennet classes first, graduating to the Draft Horses (the mother of the Mule).

After the first couple of classes had been judged, we were treated to the arrival of the Mule Queen and her court.  They proceeded to be seated in the judges' pavilion in the center of the arena.

The 2012 Queen and her court
After a couple hours here, we decided to meander toward the parking area.  We stopped to get a tee shirt for a friend and a button to make a refrigerator magnet, and then walked to the car.  And to bring the day to a relaxing end, we took the slow road home, avoiding the interstate.  You ought to consider going to this event sometime.  It was a lot of fun.

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