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June 16, 2011 7:27 am

Mule Days kicks off in Ralston

Written by Gib Mathers

Jessie Konoske of Fromberg, Mont., finishes with an unofficial fourth place win during the mounted shooting competition segment of Mule Days in Ralston Wednesday afternoon. Jessie Konoske of Fromberg, Mont., finishes with an unofficial fourth place win during the mounted shooting competition segment of Mule Days in Ralston Wednesday afternoon. Tribune photo by Carla Wensky

I think the best thing is when they pull up at the drive-in window on their mules,” said Suzanne Rankin, who works at Red Eagle Food Store in Ralston.

Of course, Rankin was talking about Jake Clark’s Mule Days. The 14th annual event kicked off Wednesday.

Mule Days says it all for Rankin’s clientele, folks riding mules to get a beer or soda pop.

Around 3,000 people arrive annually to check out the sundry Mule Days events, said Jake Clark himself.

“It’s put Ralston on the map,” said Maryanne Bischoff of Burlington, who was helping out at the Mule Days office.

“This is the biggest weekend of the summer,” Rankin said of Red Eagle sales.

Fountain drinks, ice, beer and pop. “It all goes up,” Rankin said. “It’s a positive thing.”

It may be a festive atmosphere in downtown Ralston, but folks never get too rowdy, said Rankin, ringing-up a sale on Tuesday.

This week may determine whether NJ Pawley Blacksmithing can make a go of it in Ralston.

“This is kind of a test,” NJ Pawley said, standing over his anvil.

A few more stores and businesses appear to have sprung up in Ralston recently, and Pawley believes the town has cleaned itself up a bit.

Pawley proudly displays his custom-made knives, jewelry and other items in his shop.

Mule Days should bring more business, but Pawley said he believes U.S. 14-A, Ralston’s Main Street, is the busiest secondary highway in the state.

Will Mule Days deliver more customers?

“I’m planning on it,” said Chris Pelletier, who owns Ral-Mart, St Nick Knaks and Heart Mountain Hearing.  

Pelletier wants to make Ralston a destination town with specialty shops like Nick Knaks.

“Get the tourists to come here like they do in other places,” Pelletier said.

Ralston is looking a bit more attractive and a few of the rundown places have been spiffed up, Pelletier said.

“It’s taking a little bit more pride,” Pelletier said.

Ralston has business development potential. Property is less expensive than other places, Pelletier said.

“People just have to take the chance,” Pelletier said.

Saturday pre-parade time is a big day for Stacey Cannon, who runs Perk County Coffee Company.

Between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Saturday before the parade, Cannon said sales equal a full day.

Ralston does look a little sharper, but Cannon said a couple properties still need shaping up.

A mayor and town council is what Ralston needs, Cannon said.

But Mules Days is a big event.

People get motel rooms in Lovell because Powell and Cody motels are full, said Kay Clark.

Ralston folks are taking more pride in their property.

People from 28 states came to mule days last year, Jake said.

One Miles City, Mont. fellow spends the entire week in Ralston. “This is his vacation,” Bischoff said.

Mule Days runs June 15-19. There will be vendors, art shows, auctions, music and tall tales daily. Wednesday will feature mounted shooting, team roping and barrel racing. Thursday will feature team sorting, team roping and barrel racing. Friday will have the trail course, ranch mule competition, team roping, barrel racing, tack and miscellaneous auction.

Saturday at 11 a.m. is the parade. Anyone that wants to participate in the parade can, if they meet at the Mule Days arena at 10 a.m. The rodeo begins at 1 p.m. The rib-eye and hamburger dinner is at 5 p.m. The awards ceremony is at 6 p.m. and the barn dance starts at 7 p.m.

Sunday will feature Cowboy Church at 7 a.m. and the live auction at 1 p.m.

“People come from all over the country for Mule Days. I think what Jake (Clark) did is really good for Ralston,” Cannon said.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link June 16, 2011 5:27 pm posted by Lauren Wallace

    Jake Clark's Mule days has become a family event for us. We have been to every one of the events, with the exception of 1year, the year we lost our daughter Lynnette, who loved and lived for mule days every year..Our daughters picture hangs on the wall in the sale barn at mule days. It is a great way to spend fun quality time with your family, the Clark family makes everyone feel welcome and part of the family.Thank you to the Clarks for doing this for our community.

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