Mule Day’s growth over the past decade has meant the festivities have expanded to the downtown district of Columbia, and this year’s return in 2022 is sure to be one hell of a party.
The excitement is also felt by those who may have moved to the area in the past couple of years, with this year being their very first Mule Day they will experience.
“Mule Day has this kind of county fair/rodeo feel that’s very traditional, and you obviously have the parade,” said Kellye Murphy, Columbia’s director of tourism and marketing.
“We’re off the charts excited, if that sums it all up. We’re thrilled to have Mule Day back, and we need it in so many ways. The economic impact is significant for this community, but beyond that, we need the social aspect of that, that sense of normalcy, and I feel like the return of Mule Day provides that, to celebrate and have happy times together.”
New Columbia Main Street manager Kelli Johnson added that downtown is also one of the biggest highlights visitors can experience. And much like the return of Mule Day to Maury County Park, downtown is set to see its biggest gathering in years. The completion of the West 7th Street streetscape project for the parade will also play a major role.
“The mules are back in town,” Johnson said. “The new photo we’ll be getting from West 7th down is going to be fabulous. I can just imagine the lines and the parade cars. There will definitely be lots of posts online, and it will make for a cool new screensaver. “, if I can describe it that way.”
First Fridays and live music
Mule Day weekend kicks off with the town’s favorite monthly event, First Fridays, set to be its biggest throw of the year ahead of Saturday’s parade.
The bulk of First Friday events, as usual, will take place between 5 and 8 p.m., with vendors, live music and buskers set up around the square. There will also be special sales at local stores, restaurants and other retailers.
Needle & Grain, 510 N. Garden St., will also host a special Print Your Own Mule Day Bandana event beginning at 5 p.m. Friday. Guests will be able to choose from several Mule Day-themed designs, with bandanas available for $8 and prints for $5.
This weekend’s musical lineup will include:
- The Jolly String Quartet at Puckett’s at 4:30 p.m. Friday and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, downtown Columbia
- The Wentzel Brothers Group at Asgard Brewing Co. & Taproom at 7 p.m. Friday, 104 E. 5th St.
- Alex Mabey at Vintage Winery at 5 p.m. on Fridays, 616 N. Main St.
- Stephanie Adlington Duo at Vintage Winery at 7 p.m. on Fridays, 616 N. Main St.
- Phoenix rising at Rebel Bar and Grill at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays, 307 Riverside Drive
- southern margin at Tuck’s Place at 8 p.m. Friday, 102 Depot St.
- The Wentzel Brothers Group at Tuck’s Place at 1 p.m. Saturday
- Kernel bald at the Rebel Bar and Grill at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday
- red mercury at DB’s Eats & Beats at 6 p.m. Saturday, 1144 Riverside Drive
- Ascent at EBGB M/C Clubhouse at 9 p.m. Saturday 1821 S. Main St.
- dust and daisies at Vintage Winery at 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays
- Chris Turner with Leah Dunn at Boondox at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 3543 Highway 431
Mulehouse Party showcases local talent
While this year’s Mule Day will be a first for many locals and visitors, it will also be the first time that Columbia’s latest venue, The Mulehouse, has joined in the festivities.
The Mulehouse, 812 S. High Street, will host a special Mulehouse Party from 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
The event, which is free, will feature an all-day concert lineup of local bands and singers.
The Mulehouse Party lineup will include:
- Damien Boggs
- Yonder Grove (who recently released their debut album, “All Is Well”)
- Buck Sixx
- The bird and the bear
- Pictures of Tennessee
For more information, as well as a schedule of other upcoming Mulehouse shows, visit www.TheMulehouse.com.
Fire Park Fundraiser
On Saturday, Columbia Fire & Rescue will celebrate this year’s Mule Day Parade with a special fundraiser at Firefighters Park, located at Fire Station #1 at 1000 S. Garden St.
The fundraiser, which begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, will include food trucks, premium parking for attendees, as well as bleacher-style seating for the best views of the parade. There will also be live music by Antonio Moraes.
Food trucks will include Wing 1-1 and Ooh La La New Orleans Shaved Ice, which will be set up before and after the parade. VIP tickets include two seats and one nearby parking space, as well as two exclusive event T-shirts, which will also be available for $25 for non-VIPs.
Tickets cost from $20 for general admission to $100 for VIP, and are available at www.EventBrite.com. All proceeds will go to the Fire Park Fund for park maintenance and improvements.