Local News

No Horsing Around at Benson's Mule Days

Posted September 24, 1998

— Food, folks and fun - it's all part of a small town tradition that's a favorite for young and old. It's the 49th annual Mule Days Celebration in Benson.

Mules do not get put to work much, but inBenson, about 60,000 people are gathered this weekend to make sure the animals are not forgotten.

Organizers say this weekend, Benson is "where the pavement ends, and the West begins."

Trucks yield to mules and buggies on the streets of Benson, as part of the annual tradition.

"You don't get to see them very often anymore," said Mule Days regular Doris Flora. "They've been replaced by machinery, and I think they're still with us."

Mule Daysis a celebration of the trusted work horses who have been replaced by tractors and other machinery.

Mules are no longer a fixture on the family farm. At one event this weekend, they prove their mettle by pulling as much as 2,000 pounds.

"These are just bets like you used to have with your neighbors to see who's the strongest," said mule owner Dean Hudson. "It's the same as a horse race in that you're using animals here for strength rather than for speed."

These days, a mule is more likely to be a pampered pet than a working animal. People who keep mules say there will always be a place for them on the farm, and in their hearts.

"We started off with horses, but mules are a lot better animals," mule owner Andi Ward explained. "They ride a lot better. They're tougher than a horse. They outlast the horse any day."

The Mule Days Celebrationlasts all weekend.

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