COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WTVF) — For the second year, COVID-19 has canceled Maury County’s Mule Day celebration.
The City of Columbia confirmed Tuesday that this year’s festivities and parade, which had been planned for April 8-11, have been canceled. The city shared the update on Facebook, saying it was a "mutual decision" with its co-organizer, the Maury County Bridle and Saddle Club.
“This mutual decision was made after careful consideration of all potential options, and included input and recommendations from local health and public safety officials,” the city wrote on Facebook.
Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder said it was a difficult decision and there were a lot of factors to consider.
"We've got to make the decision that we believe is best interest of all," said Mayor Molder. "I believe we did just that."
Molder said while the community has made progress fighting COVID-19, data shows Maury County is actually worse off than it was when the decision was made to cancel last year's Mule Day.
"The light is starting to appear at the end of the tunnel, but it isn’t bright enough to have an event where you might have 150,000 people transcend on your community," said Mayor Molder.
Shortly after the announcement was made, Jodi Hoffman helped launch a "Save Mule Day" Facebook group that quickly grew to more than 3,000 members.
"This is for our children. This is for our community. This is for our small businesses," said Hoffman. "This is important."
Hoffman said the group aims to organize a scaled-back version of Mule Day that would still bring revenue to the city and business to vendors.
"If you want to stop the parade, stop the parade, but don’t stop the vendors from selling. They have lost out on so much last year and it's not fair to them."
Members of the Save Mule Day Facebook group plan to meet Saturday, Feb. 6 at 9 a.m. at the Puckett's on the square in downtown Columbia. They encouraged others to join them.
A petition is also circulating online encouraging city leaders to allow Mule Day to happen this year.
Mule Day started in the 1840's as a meeting for mule breeders. It now brings more than 150,000 visitors to Columbia for the four-day event.
Any questions about Mule Day should be directed to the Mule Day Office at (931) 381-9557 or firstname.lastname@example.org.