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June 11, 2013 8:43 am

Mule Days to kick off

Written by Gib Mathers

Participants in Jake Clark’s Mule Days last year are Justin McMannigal, (left) of Alexander, Ark., and Randy Gibbs, of Peyton, Colo. Mule days runs June 12-16 this year.  Participants in Jake Clark’s Mule Days last year are Justin McMannigal, (left) of Alexander, Ark., and Randy Gibbs, of Peyton, Colo. Mule days runs June 12-16 this year. Tribune file photo by Ben Wetzel

Annual event will run for five days in Ralston

Folks from around the globe will be getting their kicks at the 16th annual Jake Clark’s Mule Days in Ralston Wednesday through Sunday.

Events include a mule auction, rodeo and dance, plus plenty of others. Mule Days starts today with an art show and auction, vendor shopping and a video preview of the mules.

The rodeo starts to rumble at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Cows appear lactose-intolerant at the rodeo’s wild cow milking event. These aren’t docile dairy cows, but cantankerous beef cattle.

Each milk team consists of a roper astride a mule, a mugger (to manhandle the cow) and the milker. Fifteen to 20 untamed head will ready to rumble. “They’re probably going to be kicking if they get a chance,” organizer Kay Clark said.

Stalwart bronco riders can try riding bucking mules at the rodeo too. They can cling to whatever they can get a grip on to stay aboard their bouncing brutes.

“Anything is legal but falling off,” Clark said.

Or, they can try the hide race. The rider sits on a cow hide and is tugged (dragged) around the arena by a mule. By the end of their race, the riders are coated in dust.

No skin shows on their faces, just a thick layer of flour-like soil.

“Their eyes are like pea holes,” Clark said. “It’s kind of fun to watch.”

Riders competing for the many prizes offered are obliged to prefer mules at this unique rodeo.

“Everything at the rodeo is done on mule-back,” Clark said.

Hurricane Mesa returns to perform country western music Saturday night at the Big Barn hoedown, where everyone from 2 to 80 will be kicking up their heels.

“It’s the music everybody can dance to,” Clark said. “The people just love them (Hurricane Mesa).”

While the band breaks during the dance there will be a homemade pie auction. Pie proceeds are earmarked for the 4-H Club, Clark said.

Dinner Saturday will be at 5 p.m. at the Big Barn. It’s a ribeye steak/hamburger dinner with all the trimmings.

Perhaps the defining event is the mule auction in the Big Barn at 1 p.m. Sunday, with 110 select saddle mules on the block.

TCT West will provide high-speed live-streaming so folks elsewhere can watch the auction. People are already calling in asking to bid via telephone, Clark said.

The mules of first-time consigners are screened to verify the mounts are gentle. And all the consigners’ mules must undertake the trail course in the arena Friday, Clark said.

Donations of new and used items are sought for the 4-H Club and Cody Country Outfitter and Guides Association auction Friday at 7 p.m. All proceeds from 4-H sales are earmarked for Jake Clark’s 4-H Endowment through the Wyoming 4-H Foundation in the Big Horn Basin.

Cody Outfitter proceeds will be used for their outfitter programs. Donations of new or used tack, paintings and other Western-type items are sought, Clark said.

Mule Days grows larger every year. Clark estimates 1,000 to 1,500 people per day this time.

Mules, rodeo, food, music, etc., etc. It’s geared for one and all. “The whole thing is pretty much a family affair,” Clark said.

For information and a schedule, check out the Mule Days website at www.saddlemule.com/index2.html or stop by the Mule Days office in Ralston to get a catalog showing the mules for sale and a schedule of events.

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