COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WTVF) — In many cases, the traditions our communities have long enjoyed are still returning, two years after the COVID shutdowns. After a two-year absence, Mule Day returns to Columbia next week.
"Personal favorites? Tom Waits, Nina Simone, KISS, and Prince, Big Star, Joni Mitchell, Pointer Sisters," Charlie Pignato said, walking past rows of vinyl records.
"Dusty Springfield!" he said, pulling another record from a stack.
When you love music like Pignato, you often love the variety out there. Pignato's Variety Record Shop in downtown Columbia has diverse sounds and a general motto, "loud is good."
"This was a group called Fanny, the first all-female rock group signed to a major label," said Pignato, pulling another find from a stack.
Run a business in downtown Columbia a while like Pignato, and you know the invaluable impact that Mule Day carries.
"Absolutely," he said. "It's all kinds of folks from all kinds of places."
Actually an event over several days, Mule Day is a celebration of how mules played a role in Maury County's farms. It includes a downtown parade, a pancake breakfast, and events at Maury County Park. Louise Mills with Mule Day said the event brings about 100,000 people to Columbia.
"It is quite the impressive income for the county," she said.
A case of buttons shows Mule Day through the years. It's an event that's been around under different names since the 1800s but has been celebrated every year as Mule Day since 1974. Every year up until 2020, that is.
"We were told we weren't going to get to do it," said Mills. "It was total devastation for us. I think we just went home and shut the door."
COVID not only canceled the 2020 celebration but 2021 as well.
Next week will see the return of Mule Day after two years gone. Mills said signs point toward their biggest attendance yet.
That's good news for a shop like Pignato's.
"We're glad it's back," he said. "It's been sorely missed, and hopefully, we'll carry it on from here on out."
For a list of events and dates for Mule Day, visit here.