The long-ears are coming to Enterprise this coming weekend for the 35th year in a row. That’s right, Hells Canyon Mule days, always held the weekend after Labor Day, is scheduled for Sept. 11, 12 and 13 at the Wallowa County Fairgrounds.
Mule lovers, young and old, from all over the world (yes, the world) will come to enjoy the parade and three full days of performance events, good dinner and dancing, cowboy poetry, Dutch oven cook-offs, art and vintage sales, vendors and more.
An HCMD souvenir admission button, good for all three days, will cost you $10 for adults, $8 for seniors 60 and older, and $3 for kids 7-12 years. Kids 6 years and younger get in free.
The number of events and visual displays you will get to see for that cost is too long to list, but a few favorites include:
• All three days, the Old World Oxen Living History Company camp — 1800s female bullwhacker “Bullwhackin’ Kass (AKA Sheryl Curtis) will have her two oxen (6 foot at the shoulder), freighter’s wagon and artifacts of the age available for hands-on experiences for young and old alike.
• All three days, the First Annual Vintiques Show, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., which will feature antiques, vintage, mid-century, up-cycling and re-imagining items for home, wardrobe or yard and garden. There is an additional $3 charge for that show in Cloverleaf Hall.
• Friday evening, the Max Walker Memorial Cowboy Poetry Gathering. This event is regularly standing-room-only, so arrive early. Cowboy poetry is famous for “flavor” and good laughs, so if you are a “laugh till tears stream out of your eyes” kind of person (or a “snort soda out your nose” kind), bring a hanky. The event begins Friday night at 6 p.m. in the indoor arena. It’s free, but a $5 donation to the Max Walker Memorial Scholarship Fund would be nice.
• Friday and Saturday events: Everything from the Classic Jump-Off Challenge to Team Roping to Log Pulls to the Fat Ass Express to the hilarious Packer’s Scramble with green mules to be packed.
• Saturday Parade, beginning at 11 a.m. at the fairgrounds and circling through downtown Enterprise and back. This is a top photo opportunity for mule fans.
The parade Grand Marshals this year are Dennis and Peggy Brennan, long-term Mule Days supporters and fourth-generation Wallowa Countians. Among his many claims to fame, Dennis was the last person to win the Journeyman Ferrier competition at Mule Days — a competition wherein a fellow had 15 seconds to look at a hoof and then forge a shoe to fit it.
The Brennans have two mules, Moses and Ben. Peggy Brennan, who is just as “famous” as Dennis, rides for five different ranchers in the area and rotates between the mules and her good horse, Nick. They join a storied list of Mule Days Royalty as Grand Marshals.
• Saturday at 12:30 after the parade: The Kids’ Stick Mule and Boot Scramble races. Kids 4 to 9 years of age compete to win a blue ribbon and special awards.
• Saturday evening: Finger-lickin’ eats and some good country music are available at the Max Walker Memorial Scholarship Pit BBQ Dinner at 5 p.m. ($10). Then, it’s over to the arena for the annual Mule Sale at 6 p.m. A well-trained mule can go for upwards of $5,000. Will this be a record year?
• Sunday 9 a.m. to noon: It’s a slow event to watch, but the finish is spectacular. It’s the Dutch Oven Cook-off and if you buy a People’s Choice packet at the event, you will get to sample all the dishes and vote on the best dish in each category.
A full list of events, charges and more can be seen at www.hellscanyonmuledays.com/
Mules and horses for sale can be seen at www.facebook.com/pages/Hells-Canyon-Mule-Days/141112359283266