The early settlers wouldn’t have been nearly as comfortable or productive without their long-eared companions. Join us for a celebration of the of the mules and donkeys of the Ozarks.
Honoring the spirit of long-eared independence, the Ozark Folk Center is hosting several donkey and mule competitions on the 4th of July. Competitions start at 9:00 a.m. Handlers can walk the courses beginning at 8:00 a.m. Any long-eared equine and their human companion can participate.
The morning will start with a mail trail course. Mail trails wind through the Ozarks and were a vital link from one community to another. This competition calls for the handler and saddled equine to carry a bag of objects through an obstacle course, picking up and dropping off items along the way. The mule or donkey must complete each obstacle, which may involve going through gates, stepping over logs or walking through water while carrying the bags on their saddle. Each obstacle is worth 10 points, completing the course with the correct items in the pack is worth 10 points, general donkey or mule attitude is worth 10 points, handler attitude is worth 10 points and crossing the finish line without cussing is worth 10 points. Handlers may choose to ride, drive or lead. Time on the course is limited to 15 minutes.
The second competition is an endurance course. This is a foot race, based on the pack animal tradition. Mules and donkeys are known for their strength and endurance. We’ll see if the same can be said for their handlers. The animals will start saddled and lined up at the starting line. Donkey or mule headgear will consist of a halter that fits properly and a lead rope of no more than 15 feet. Handlers must have control of their animals. Animals that kick will be disqualified. Each team will walk or run from the starting line in the parking lot at the Ozark Folk Center, around the circle and back to the finish line in front of the judges tent. Critter and handler must cross the finish line connected by the lead rope. The course may be shortened at the discretion of the managment if the day is very hot.
The third competition is a talent contest. Is your donkey the best singer in the park? Is your little mule the most beautiful girl you’ve ever seen? Do you ride dressage on your mule or rope steers off your donkey? Well, then, show off to the world and let everyone know why we are so proud of our long-earred companions.
Bribing your critters, by use of treats, grain, or any other reasonable means to acquire cooperation of your critter, is not only encouraged, but expected, in order to keep the show moving. This rule also applies to the human handlers.
Sign up by July 1 to compete in the Donkey and Mule Days at the Ozark Folk Center on Saturday the 4th of July. Pre-registration is required for these competitions. There is a $10.00 entry fee for each long-ear and handler team. Animals may compete more than once in any competition, but the handler must be different. A handler can enter more than one donkey or mule in the competition.
Proof of negative Coggins within the previous 12 months is required by state law. A Coggins inspector will be onsite and no animals will be allowed to unload without an original certification.
Certificates of completion will be given to every team finishing the course or the race. First, second and third place certificates will be awarded in each competition and great notoriety will go to everyone brave enough to attempt to compete in this event.
There is no fee to watch the Old-Timey Ozark Donkey and Mule Days at the Ozark Folk Center. Parking at the Ozark Folk Center is always free and buses are available to take you to the craft village, gift shop and restaurant.
The Ozark Folk Center Craft Village is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on 4thof July. During the day we will be having Craft Village good old-fashioned music, craft demonstrations and lots of fun.
Admission to the Craft Village is $10.00 for adults, $6.00 for children, with children 6 and under free.