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Each week on the Junior Curators blog, we travel back in time to a different place in Tennessee history. Stories may be about a famous person, place or event from Tennessee’s past. They will include things like priceless artifacts, pictures, videos, and even some games. Be sure to better understand the story by answering the questions at the end of each post.
After learning the story, be sure to share what you've learned with your parents, family, or friends. Try making your own exhibit about it, shooting a movie, or writing a story about it. Let your creativity run wild!
by Morgan Byrn
You won’t believe this! I just got back from the Mule Day celebration! Remember when I told you about that funny little pin I saw at the Tennessee State Museum? You know the one that said Mule Day? Well, I told Mom and Dad about it, and they planned a trip to Mule Day! We drove down to Columbia, Tennessee on Saturday morning. Our first stop was to set up our chairs on the parade route. We sat our chairs in front of President Polk’s house. Dad said we have to come back to see inside his house. A nice lady said we could leave our chairs and that we should go to the pancake breakfast. Granny, the pancake breakfast was delicious! We sat at a table with strangers and the old man started talking to Dad. He told us all about Mule Day.
He said that Mule Day started over 150 years ago! It started out as a day in April when the farmers would bring their livestock to sell on the public square. It was important because farmers needed good mules to help with their farming. The day was so popular they decided to make it a big celebration in 1934. That’s when they added the parade to the event. But, with the popularity of the tractor, selling mules became less important. So in 1974, they added the Mule Day Queen Pageant (it’s for ladies not mules), square dancing, and even mule contests. Now it was a whole weekend long and there were lots of events for people to attend! Today, 100,000 people come to Mule Day; it brings a lot of tourism to Columbia. That’s a lot of pancakes to sell! The man told us we could see a lot of neat things at the fairgrounds after the parade. The parade was so cool! The Mule Day Queen had her own float and wore a big crown. I saw so many mules! People riding mules, wagons being pulled by mules, and one woman who could stand on her mule as it galloped. Marching bands played and there was even a man leading his sheep right down the road.
We went to the fairgrounds afterwards. When we got there I saw a booth were I could buy my own Mule Day pin! We watched an event called mule pulling. The announcer told the crowd that mules, even the mini ones, can pull almost three times their weight. The farmer yells “Gee” and “Haw” to get their team to go. The girl beside me said her teacher always asks the class if they are “geehawing.” Then her teacher can tell if everyone is on the same page. She comes every year with her family. Last year she entered her mule in the “Mini Mule Show.” She then told me Mule Day is the biggest event in the town. It’s a fun event, but people still come to buy mules and their mule equipment.
You will have to come with us next year Granny! We had so much fun! As we were leaving mom bought be my very own cowgirl hat! I am so excited to wear it next year at the parade.
P.S. Here are some pictures for you Granny!
This is the pin I saw at the museum.
We saw this old post card at the fairgrounds. It shows them selling mules in front of the courthouse on the square.
Mule Day: A four day event held in Columbia TN, usually the first weekend in April
President Polk: James K. Polk was the 11th president of the United States
Tourism: people visiting a place, like a vacation, to see something famous or unique
Livestock: animals kept or raised for work or to make money; not a pet
Public Square: an open public area in a city or town where people gather
Team: a group of animals working together
What was Mule Day originally for?
Why do you think the invention of the tractor hurt mule sales?
If you were in charge of the next Mule Day, what events would you add to make it even more fun?
Design and draw your own float to enter into a Mule Day parade.
Learn More About It:
Mule Day on Tennessee Cross Roads- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4-HtOuqbu8
Tennessee State Social Studies Standard:
1.07—Recognize major products and industries found in Tennessee (e.g., agriculture, manufacturing, mining, music, and tourism)
5.53—Compare and contrast the three grand divisions of Tennessee in terms of the following: Tourism (e.g., Bristol Motor Speedway, Civil War sites, and Graceland)
Morgan Byrn is the Public Programs Manager at the Tennessee State Museum.