Mule Days: What is it all about?
As a rural community, Benson, North Carolina has long been known for its farm trade. The trading of mules was one of the town's main occupations. Many businesses carried horse and mule drawn farm equipment. Just prior to WWII, Benson became an appliance center as well as a mule town that had over a dozen mule stables. But the mule prevailed. After all, mules did not require rationed gasoline or scarce rubber tires.
Though tractor technology was rapidly replacing the mule, the mule was not erased from the memories of those whose livelihood had depended on them. The memories and a love for tradition led Nowell Smith and Willis McLamb to discuss with Lewis Lawrence, the first manager of the newly formed Benson Chamber of Commerce, the possibility of setting aside a day to celebrate the mule. These ideas excited residents and merchants who could see extra people coming to Benson to do business. In 1950, the Benson Area Chamber of Commerce agreed to sponsor the first Mule Days.
The first celebration was a few hundred participants with mule pulling contests, tobacco spitting contests, and the largest family contest. Now, Benson Mule Days has grown to approximately 30,000 attendees who come the 4th weekend in September for the parade, rodeos, carnival, arts and crafts display, street dance, camping, bluegrass show, mule competitions and more. The success of this event is phenomenal!
The Benson Chamber of Commerce continues to work to make our Mule Days Celebration a family oriented festival. We thank you for your support and look forward to seeing you at Mule Days as we celebrate our heritage.