Mule Day(s) 2015
Andrew Dugger, Woodbury, TN Driving Mule Show: Won Mule Hitch - 4 Mules ribbon was presented by MacKenzie Pressnell, 2015 Mule Day Queen
Mule Day 2015 in the “Mule Capital of the World,” Columbia, TN started with the traditional Wagon Train, departing on April 6 and arriving at Maury County Park on April 8 to “kick start” the annual celebration. This year’s Mule Day ran from April 6-12. Mule Day began more than 150 years ago when Columbia became known as a Mule Trading Center, where farmers could find quality, well broke mules to plow their fields. The mule sales were held in downtown Columbia around the Courthouse. The first official Mule day was held in 1934, which consisted of a parade and a mule show in downtown Columbia.
This year’s celebration included special focus on the history of mules in the military. Mules have served in war zones across the globe. They were first used in the Black Hawk War of 1832. In the mid-1840s these hardy animals were used by the U.S. Army to pull supply wagons in the Mexican War. During the Civil War, the Union Army used about one million mules to transport artillery and supplies. The South used about half as many and asked soldiers to provide their own. Columbia's mules were so prized that the British army purchased many of them for the Boer War and World War I. Wherever they have served, they are regarded as sure footed, sturdy, and hard working.
This year, as part of Mule Day celebration, the Tennessee State Library and Archives has a new exhibit called “Got Mules?” Learn a lot about mules, military and civilian, by visiting the “Got Mules?” online exhibit, which documents the history of mules in America dating all the way back to Christopher Columbus. It can be found online at http://www.tn.gov/tsla/exhibits/mules/index.htm
“Columbia's Mule Day is one of Tennessee’s great events,’ Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “Mules have been a big part of our history, serving important roles in farming, the military, and cultural life. I encourage people who want to learn more about mules and the part they have played in our history to check out the State Library and Archives’ online exhibit.” Also read about the history of mules in Becky Leifheit’s article in the Mule Day program, “The Mighty Mule: The Military’s Vital Weapon.”
If you don’t have one and would like a mule of your own, opportunities for ownership abounded at the Mule Auction on Wednesday April 8, conducted by the Lewisburg Livestock Market. And if you wanted to hear some fast talking sales people, the Mule Day Auctioneer Contest at the Livestock Producers Sale Barn was the place to be!
But can you believe everything they say? One had to listen with skepticism at the Friday evening Liars’ Contest, where you could hear all kinds of tall tales. What would Mr. Ripley say? Believe it or not?
Mules can handle the heavy lifting projects with ease, as evidenced by the Log Loading and Log Pulling Competitions on Thursday April 9. Spectators could watch the precision work of mules and their handlers, showing how to move huge logs before the days of machinery to do the work. This exhibit shows the true meaning of teamwork – both between the mules and between the humans and mules.
The Miniatures showed all they could do on Thursday, Mini Mania Day, April 9. They are well trained to pull wagons, arts, jump over poles, drive with precision through poles, and more. Pony mules were not to be overlooked either, as they showed how stout and tough they are when it comes to pulling at the Pony Mule Pulling contest.
Driving is an important part of the celebration, with mules pulling wagons to the precision commands of their drivers. The mules are trained to both lines and voice commands, allowing the mules and drivers to work in harmony to back, cross obstacles, and turn in the correct direction. The teams are matched in size, color, and uniformity.
Gaited Mules can “gait” with the best of any gaited horses. Friday was the Tennessee Gaited Mule State Championship, when the best gaited mules strutted their stuff.
Of course, music has to be a part of the week-long celebration. Entertainment at the 4-H Ridley Center featured Tony Malugin, Katie Stewart, and Logan Blade. Folks could also enjoy line dancing and do a little two-stepping. The fifth annual Bluegrass Music Fest featured The Grasskickers and Dixie Crossing.
Folks could meet Mule Artist Bonnie Shields this year. By state law, she is the Tennessee Mule Artist! She has illustrated several books, including Marguerite Henry’s delightful children’s book, Brown Sunshine of Sawdust Valley, the story of a baby mule born to Molly’s mare.
Hope you had a good time but, if you missed it, there’s always next year: March 28-April 3, 2016. Read more about it at: www.muleday.com
(all photos courtesy of Bill Johnson, HorsePix Photography, Columbia, TN)
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