Mule Day is Saturday

The cane juice is cooked and bottled, early arrivals are camped and ready, and the 38th annual Mule Day in Calvary is unofficially underway in the south Grady community.
The Calvary Lions Club and many volunteers have worked countless hours to prepare for this weekend’s huge event dedicated to honoring the backbone of early American agriculture. What started as an annual fund raiser for the civic club has exploded over the years into a regional attraction with tens of thousands of people spending the day in Calvary where shopping, entertainment and all things mule are the order.
Early this week, Lions Club President Charles Harrison and several volunteers lead by Bonial Vickers of Whigham and his son, Dennis, spent many hours inside a steam-filled shed cooking cane juice into the popular Mule Day brand cane syrup. “We’re fortunate to have good volunteers we can call on to help,” says Mr. Harrison.
The large evaporator is expected to help produce about 4,000 bottles of syrup, about the same amount as last year, but still a relatively low quantity compared to other years. The loss of a club member several years ago also resulted in the loss of the club’s cane source. Former club president Bob Maxwell is working to grow a new supply of cane, and Mr. Harrison says he expects to have between three and five acres of the sweet crop in about three years. “That would give us enough cane for more than seven days of cooking,” says Mr. Harrison. Currently, the club cooks the “yellow gal” cane variety only about three days.
That homemade syrup will sell for $4 in a 12-ounce bottle, or $3 in a 10-ounce bottle. In addition to the syrup, cane juice will also be on sale. “That’s a country boy’s pleasure,” Mr. Harrison says of cane juice.
Another Mule Day branded product made on site and sold Saturday is cornmeal. The stone ground meal retains some of the corn’s hull and germ, and will be sold in three-pound bags.
While all 460 arts and crafts booths and approximately 75 food vendors will be open for business on Saturday, Mule Day begins with activities on Friday.
During the day Friday, school students studying Georgia history will visit the Mule Museum; volunteers of the Tallahassee Chapter of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors will also be inside the museum with displays of clocks and watches and experts on hand to answer questions about personal time pieces brought by the public for inspection.
The Lions Club holds its annual Pilau dinner that evening followed by an auction at 5:30 p.m., and entertainment at 7 p.m.
On Saturday, a breakfast kicks off the day at 6 a.m., the popular Mule Day Parade takes place at 11 a.m., and the Mule Show begins at 1 p.m.
All day on the grounds, in addition to shopping and eating opportunities, will be cane grinding demonstrations; syrup making; corn grinding; 4-H petting zoo; sling shot shoot; trained chicken show; mechanical bull ride; rock climbing; gem mining; and health screening.
Other local organizations setting up displays include the Grady County Historical Society; Help Agency; and Roddenbery Memorial Library.
Official Mule Day Souven-Ears will be on sale throughout the day next to the Mule Museum. Official Mule Day items for sale will include t-shirts, buttons, bookmarks, and magnets with proceeds going to Calvary Lions Club.

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