One of the reasons I came to Nashville from Chicago is that I wanted to see another part of the country. In Nashville, I could experience southern culture and all that came with it. However, Vanderbilt’s campus doesn’t feel very southern to me since everyone is from all over the country. But there are plenty of opportunities off campus to get the full southern experience. Yesterday I had the chance to go to Mule Day with some people from my ASB group and it was so much fun!
Mule Day (or week, as that’s how long it lasts) was an hour away from Nashville in Columbia, TN. Apparently it draws a crowd of over 80,000 people each year. Imagine a smaller version of a state fair with most of the animals being mules. I definitely felt like an outsider as most people sported jeans with cowboy boots and seemed to come from farms/small towns in the area. There was even a mule king and queen (the king was an actual mule) along with a parade of old-fashioned wagons pulled by mules.
We walked around for a bit when we got there, looking at all the food (like chocolate covered bacon), the stands selling trinkets and such, and the barn which was full of animals. Then we went to the main arena to watch mule pulling. Basically they had this contraption to put cinderblocks in to alter the weight and hooked up the mules to see if they could pull it. Each pair of mules got three tries to pull it the full 10 feet. Depending on the division, sometimes there were additional rules like having to stay inside the ropes, or having to pull it all in one run. From what I gathered (since I’m clearly a mule expert), the strategy was to get both mules to start pulling at the exact same time, which made it a lot easier somehow. I was pretty impressed with how much weight some of them could pull-it got up to 4000 or 5000 pounds!
We also watched a mule show, where mules were judged. I wish I knew what the mules where judged on, but we just watched as this elderly man walked around looking at them, checking their teeth, and ranking them. It looked like they were judged on how well-behaved they were and just general appearance. Some of them made noises, which was weird, because I never expected that noise to come out of a mule. Most of the time we spent betting which mule would win.
All in all, it was a great day learning about mules and getting to experience some southern culture!