Bishop Mule Days

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The logo of Bishop Mule Days
Bishop Mule Days logo
photo of two mule-drawn wagons in the Bishop Mule Days parade
Two mule-drawn wagons in the Bishop Mule Days parade.
photo of mule pack string in the Bishop Mule Days parade
A mule pack string in the Bishop Mule Days parade.
photo of the Bishop Mule Days
Participants in the Bishop Mule Days stand for the Star Spangled Banner, with the Sierra Nevada in the background.
photo of a mule pack string operated by the United States Forest Service and participating in the Bishop Mule Days parade.
A mule pack string operated by the United States Forest Service, carrying firefighting gear, and participating in Bishop Mule Days.
photo of packer's scramble event at Bishop Mule Days
The first pack string to reassemble and run out of the arena is the winner of the packing scramble.

Bishop Mule Days is an annual festival celebrating the mule, held in Bishop, California over a six-day period just before Memorial Day. It includes competitive events and the largest non-motorized parade in the United States. It started as a small show in 1969 with a few hundred attendees and has grown to Bishop's largest event, attracting as many as 30,000 spectators. Among mule shows, Bishop Mule Days has been described as "The Granddaddy of Them All".[1]

Bob Tallman has been the senior announcer of Bishop Mule Days for over 20 years.[2] Also included are an arts and crafts show, and a country and western musical concert. The featured musical performer in 2010 was Lonestar, and Terri Clark was scheduled to perform in 2012.

Parade[edit]

The annual Bishop Mule Days parade takes place on the Saturday morning before Memorial Day. The parade route runs north on U.S. Route 395 through downtown Bishop. No motorized vehicles or floats are allowed; all entries must either be on foot, or use mules or horses. The 2010 parade had 110 units, including 18 mule pack strings from commercial pack stations and government agencies including the United States Forest Service, the National Park Service and the Mountain Warfare Training Center operated by the United States Marine Corps. Many historic mule-drawn and horse-drawn vehicles participate. Although most parade units are from California, units from Idaho, Nevada, Iowa, Arizona, Oregon and Utah participated in 2010.

Grand marshalls of the parade in past years have included Ronald Reagan[3] and Norman Livermore.

Competition[edit]

Competitive events take place over a six-day period at the Tri-County Fairgrounds in Bishop. "A full slate of competitive events is featured, including events such as barrel racing, calf roping, steer stopping, cow penning, flat racing, and carriage driving. Activities also range from packing to dressage, and from team chariot racing to mule shoeing contests."[4] There were nearly 220 classes in 2010.

The packing scramble[edit]

The packing scramble is a competitive event unique to Bishop Mule Days. Mule pack strings enter the arena, and are unloaded and untethered. Rodeo cowboys then stampede the herd, firing blank gunshots. The event is described as a "wild and wooly spectacular" with "more than one hundred horses and mules running loose in the arena."[5] "Teams of professional backcountry packers compete against each other for bragging rights. Each team must wrangle its own mules out of a herd in the arena, pack them correctly, and race around to the finish line as spectators whoop, cheer and jeer."[6] The winning team is the one that is first to reassemble and reload its pack string, and lead it out of the arena.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hauer, John; Hauer, Sena (2006). The Natural Superiority of Mules. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot. p. 29. ISBN 1-59228-864-2. 
  2. ^ Event Program (2010), "2010 Mule Days Celebration: The Year of the Packer", Bishop Mule Days 
  3. ^ Ellis, Darcy (November 23, 2007), "Magazine nominates Mule Days for Western awards", Inyo Register 
  4. ^ Attar, Cynthia (2009). The Mule Companion: A Guide to Understanding the Mule. CCB Publishing. p. 26. ISBN 0-9651776-5-3. 
  5. ^ Hauer, John; Hauer, Sena (2006). The Natural Superiority of Mules. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot. p. 29. ISBN 1-59228-864-2. 
  6. ^ Wall, Debra (April 26, 2009), "Best of small-town West is focused in Bishop", Las Vegas Review-Journal 

External links[edit]