I grew up in the “Mule Capital of the World”. Bishop is known for the longest running non-motorized parade in the world. Mule Days is huge and it would be hard for you to understand the scope of things unless you’ve been here during Memorial Day weekend. On an average day, our population (within the city limits and the outer-lying areas) is close to 10,000 people (I think). The weekend before Mule Days actually starts is the time when most of the people start filtering in from all over the country and even the world. By the time the events actually start happening, our population doubles or we have a lot more people than I really pay attention to.
Right now, I can hear the concert for Neal McCoy faintly in the distance outside. I’m not a fan of county music so I could care less about the concert they put on every year. Mule Days is the main event that brings the tourists to Bishop and basically keeps this town going. Unfortunately, the businesses around town end up jacking up the prices on everything to “get the most out of the tourists” but none of them seem to care that they screw the locals. We have to pay the higher prices as well and then people don’t understand why quite a few of the locals leave town for the weekend. My dad doesn’t leave the house and come into town unless we’re having dinner at Jack’s.
The only pictures that I could find to share with all of you are from 2008. As far as I know, I have been to almost all of the Mule Days parades in my 29 years of existence. I don’t mind it and some of the entries are interesting. UC Davis always has something to do with one of the most popular movies that are out in theatres. We have the Wild Ass Women who ride their mules and horses down Main Street dressed like wild west “women of the night”. Smokey Bear always rides with the US Forest Service. We have all of the local school marching bands.
The one thing that is hurting us this year is a virus that is going around that makes horses really ill and even can kill them. Most of the horses that were supposed to be here got quarantined. Most of the time we have the Budweiser Clydesdales and the percherons, but I can guarantee that they more than likely will not be here. When one of those horses go for around $100,000 I don’t blame them for keeping them away from here. Mules and donkeys can carry the virus, but they won’t get infected. In order to qualify for an entry, it must be pulled by a horse, mule, donkey, any other animal or human. One year someone entered a truck (I think it was one of the local dealerships) and they had the truck in neutral and being pulled by a team of mules. It truly is incredible to watch a twenty mule team go down the street.
I will post about this year’s Mule Days over the weekend. I already plan on taking a lot of pictures. On top of all the animals, we have a replica of the Viet Nam War Memorial Wall in town. It came through today and it was an honor to see that many people lined on the sidewalk to see it go through town.