Dust off your cowboy boots, put on your hat and head over to Bishop’s Main Street - there’s only one - to celebrate Mule Days. Here, in the Mule Capital of the World, breeders, trainers, and riders from all over the world come to celebrate the rare creation of a jack and mare. Every Memorial Day Weekend, Main Street stages the largest non-motorized parade complete with a recreation of the Twenty Mule Team, Budweiser horses, ornamental wagons, and rodeo clowns with pockets full of candy. In the past, connoisseurs of the parade used to set up their lawn chairs along the sidewalk safeguarding prime seating. But, newcomers should not fear; the past tradition is no longer allowed. Most viewers arrive early, while a few lucky ones station themselves on the rooftops of their businesses for a nice bird’s eye view. Announcers call out local businesses participating in the parade, as well as organizations supporting the tradition, and live band and dance performances from neighboring schools.
After the parade, the crowd makes their way to the city park to engage in friendly bargaining battles for homemade goods, rare woodwork designs, eloquent photography, and more. If you don't find enough goodies and home décor there, then head over to the Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fairgrounds. There you will find a larger variety of supplies for your horses and mules. After your shopping spree, take some refuge under the canopy of the stables to pet the animals, and if you're lucky, the owners might be around to let you feed them. Wash your hands and refuel at the infamous Indian Taco stand, a local favorite. Kick off your boots and give your feet a rest before the big dance. At times, there seems to be an unofficial competition of who is wearing the biggest belt buckle. Kids can practice packing wooden horses and race stick horses; there is an event for all ages.
As the sun sets, more rodeo events begin. The difference is that most of these races are done on mules. The crowd cheers to barrel racing, chariot races, and little kids mutton busting, but don't worry -- they're wearing helmets! If you’re ready to show off your line dancing skills, follow the sounds to the live band. The dance holds a family night and an adult night with a mixed crowd. There is also a country western concert with famous artists who also come to enjoy the culture of this genuine little town. Get your tickets now before they're sold out. Log onto muledays.org for more information and to find the package that is right for you.
Anamaria Sanchez lives in Bishop and enjoys writing, climbing, photography, and shredding turns at Mammoth Mountain.