Every Memorial Day weekend since 1970, the town of Bishop, nestled on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains, comes alive with the annual presentation of Mule Days. The outfitters and packers of the region wanted an event to start off the packing season and the businessmen wanted to draw vacationers to the Owens Valley. What began as an informal gathering and a test of skills, has grown into a fun filled, world class event.
There is no way to actually describe Mule Days. It is part mule show, part test of skills, and part Wild West show. It is an event the likes of which are held no where else in the world. Over the six days of the event, there are 14 shows featuring over 700 mules with their trainers, riders and packers. In excess of 30,000 fans converge on the Tri-County Fairgrounds and the Mike Boothe Arena to watch the events and visit the exhibitors. The fourteen mule shows consist of: Western, youth, English, cattle working, gaited, coon jumping, racing, musical tires, gymkhana, packing, shoeing, chariot racing, team roping and driving. For most competitions, veteran announcers, Bob Tallman and Bob Feist, take the microphone to both educate and entertain crowds.
In addition to competitive events, Mule Days has many other featured events to expand the experience. Country Music stars take the stage Thursday night, and on Saturday, spectators take to the streets of Bishop to watch the longest running non-motorized parade in the U.S. There’s also Barbecues, country dances and an arts and crafts show.
Mule people are determined to prove that anything a good horse can do, a good mule can do better. From trail riding to show classes, mules can do it all with the grace unique to these animals. Steer roping and stopping, an event normally reserved for quarter horses, is another highlight of Mule Days. Cowboys will have the opportunity to prove their roping and riding skills astride some of the best working mules in the United States.