What can turn a sleepy, little town of 4,540 into a bustling city of nearly 25,000?
Mule Day has been a tradition in my hometown of Winfield, Alabama since 1975. The event was originally dreamed up by Curt Estes as a parade to honor the hard-working mules in our tiny community, in particular, his mule, Jenny. Held annually on the fourth Saturday in September, the parade has grown to include many other special events, held over the course of Friday night, all day Saturday, and Sunday afternoon.
This year, the fun kicks off on Friday, September 25. At 7:00 p.m., the downtown area resembles a crowded bazaar as the flea market merchants begin to peddle their wares. A shopper can find a large assortment of items for sale: candles, genuine antiques, boutique clothing, purses, toys, jewelry, handmade items, and decorations for Halloween and Christmas. The local businesses stay open late and have great sales as a part of the festivities. The variety of items available is sure to please any shopper.
The food items offered up by vendors are equally as varied and palate-pleasing. Some of my favorite places to visit sell fresh-squeezed lemonade, funnel cakes, boiled peanuts, and chicken-on-a-stick. My family of four can find something for everyone at mealtime--which is not an easy feat with four picky eaters!
There is something for the music lover here, as well. Several locations in the city offer live musical performances, clogging, and line dancing, with standing-room only crowds. (Admittedly, there are no seats in the various locations, hence the standing. It sounded good, though, didn't it?) Our historic Pastime Theater will present a musical performance at 7:00 p.m. The Pastime Music Revue is a fun experience in a beautifully renovated theater for only $5.00 admission.
After a night of food, fun, and music, a weary shopper must go home in rest to prepare for Saturday and all it has to offer.
On Saturday, September 26, the festivities start early at 7:00 a.m., as the Flea Market re-opens and the Arts and Crafts booths open for business on Ashwood Drive, near the Public Library. If you need to work off the previous evening's funnel cakes, the registration for the Mule Day Run/Fun Walk begins at the Wellness Center at 7:30 a.m.
For the vintage transportation fan, there is an Antique Car Show at the Middle School and an Antique Tractor Show at Foodland Shopping Center. There are cash prizes, trophies, and other goodies given to Car Show participants, so polish up your sweet ride and enter it in the contest.
Without a doubt, one of the biggest attractions of the day remains the Parade itself. The Winfield High School Pirate Band leads off in what has become quite a long spectacle of mules, horses, wagons, tractors, politicians, and marching footsoldiers in Civil War dress. Of course, no parade involving animals would be complete without local dignitaries doing something undignified--pooper scooper duty.
After the Parade is over and shoppers have spent all their money and eaten everything in sight, the vendors pack up and move on to the next festival during the late afternoon. But wait! The fun is not over yet!
At our city's Ivan K. Hill Park, the Civil War re-enactment begins at 2:00 p.m. with the "Skirmish at the Luxapalilla." At 7:00 p.m. on Saturday evening, a Civil War Period Ball Featuring The 5th Alabama Regimental Band begins, complete with full-costume dress for the participants, who set up camp for the evening in the rolling green fields of the golf driving range at the park. It is not uncommon to feel and hear the blast of a cannon shot throughout the afternoon on Saturday and Sunday.
After church on Sunday, spectators gather to watch the Civil War Battle re-enactment at 2:00 p.m. at the park. (Since we live about two miles away, we do not get to have a nap that afternoon as the cannon blasts rattle all the windows, as well as our dog's nerves.)
I hope you will come and visit my little town for Mule Day this year. Besides all of the special attractions, there are many delicious restaurants and unique shops that you need to check out. Tell 'em Lianne sent you!
For more information on Mule Day, click here. (Images of the Parade itself are from the Chamber of Commerce website.)