Enthusiastic contestants from as far away as England and Brazil and a standing-room only horse and mule sale were among highlights of Hells Canyon Mule Days in Enterprise last weekend, according to event president Sondra Lozier.
"We had a lot of people in town, and even though rain put a damper on track and arena events Sunday morning, we just moved into the show barn," said Lozier. "It was a big success."
A total of 117 contestants competed in the mule show, and while that was fewer than the 167 of last year, Lozier said they entered in more events overall.
The foreign contestants are studying mules under breeder Jehnet Carlsen of the DJ Bar Ranch of Belgrade, Mont., herself a first-time Mule Days participant. Lozier said one contestant came all the way from Redding, Calif., with a "hot" mule just to compete in a couple of mule races, leaving as a winner.
In addition to mule show competitors, Lozier said that spectators also came from far afield, pointing in particular to a couple who flew in to Lewiston, Idaho, from Illinois to take in the show.
"The vendors were happy with their business on Saturday, and will all be back, and the quilt show was also a success," said Lozier.
She credited an arena crew that included Fred Steen, Dennis Brennan, Ryan Falk and Mark Diedrich with running a very faced-paced show.
Giving extra points to contestants who also appeared in the Mule Days parade swelled the size of the parade, which included a Union County Shrine Club entry with pack mules and two side-saddle groups.
The new Wallowa County 4-H Court was on hand as Mule Day volunteers, with one of the members, Christina Montgomery, doubling as show steward. Other new court members are Ayesha Wortman and Rochelle Wortman.
Last year, 4-H Court member Lela Wortman was seriously injured while helping out at Mule Days, but was back this year enjoying the show. Her mother, Schevelle Wortman, was the winner of one of the event's raffle prizes, a beaded headstall.
"I couldn't believe it when I walked into the show barn for the horse and mule auction Saturday night, and not only were the bleachers packed, but people were standing six or seven deep," said Lozier. Approximately 80 animals were sold, which Lozier thought could be a record.