WOODBURY, Tenn. (WTVF) — Mule Day brings in thousands of visitors from across the country, but this year the parade and festivities are canceled in Columbia due to COVID-19.
It's a hot topic in town as residents are divided about it. A local farmer is worried that history is going to be forgotten if the event keeps getting canceled.
Mules were once an integral part of farm life. That's why it's so important to Grady George to preserve their legacy. "I cut hay with them, plow with them," George said.
Every year, Columbia's Mule Day is a family affair; so he was disappointed it was canceled for the second year in a row. "Ooo no, not again!" George said.
The event is described on its website as a "celebration of all things related to mules." And calls Columbia the “Mule Capital” of the world. The celebration began in 1840 as “Breeder’s Day”, a meeting for mule breeders and now attracts over 100,000 people taking place over four days.
As part of the Middle Tennessee Mule Skinners club, George usually lends a ride to a dignitary in the parade. "I used to haul the Mayor, but now I haul the 'mule person of the year' which is the number two wagon in the parade. I don’t know how I worked up that far but I did," George said.
George fears Mule Day will be gone for good if it keeps getting canceled, and he really hopes that doesn't happen. For some small businesses in town, Mule Day is a big money maker. "Ya know hey if they’re going over there to make money, mule people are notoriously stingy," George said. He hopes one day that his mules, Kate and Jane, will have their big debut in the Mule Day parade.
He's not alone. A petition is also circulating online encouraging city leaders to allow Mule Day to happen this year.
To raise awareness, the Middle Tennessee Mule Skinners broke the Guinness World Record for Mule Plowing a couple of years ago. They had 93 mules plow a field at the same time.