2018-10-11 / Front Page

New activities, crowd favorites to highlight Mule Day Sat.


Laurie Wilson, new to this year’s Mule Day Southern Heritage Festival, will be bringing two new mule events to the day including Garrocha pole riding and dressage with her mule, Toby Jack. Laurie Wilson, new to this year’s Mule Day Southern Heritage Festival, will be bringing two new mule events to the day including Garrocha pole riding and dressage with her mule, Toby Jack. The 38th annual Mule Day Southern Heritage Festival will feature crowd favorites and a variety of new artistry at Callaway Plantation, as this year’s celebration gets underway on Saturday, October 13, running from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. And what’s more, it will be joined by other activities downtown, on and around The Square at various times during the day and evening.

“We have a lot going on this year that’s new so we’re really excited about it,” Chamber of Commerce Executive Director John Singleton said.

As Mule Day is considered a celebration of rural farm life in Georgia from the late 1700s to the 1900s, festival-goers can expect a day’s worth of period-centric activities and displays, including mule contests and sheep dog herding, interactive plowing demonstrations, and kids games such as sack races and egg-and-spoon races. However, music from a hodgepodge of performers, museum tours, primitive craft demonstrations, and War Between the States re-enactors will also fill the scheduled itinerary with family-friendly fun.


Brantley Scott Stevens shows off the gems he found while panning for gold with the help of Rotary Club President Paula Stevens. Kids at Mule Day will also be able to give it a try this weekend at Callaway Plantation. Brantley Scott Stevens shows off the gems he found while panning for gold with the help of Rotary Club President Paula Stevens. Kids at Mule Day will also be able to give it a try this weekend at Callaway Plantation. “We’ve got some really good craft and food vendors this year too,” Singleton added.

New this year, the Washington Rotary Club is sponsoring “Panning for Gold” which will allow kids to simulate what it was like looking for gold “back in the day.” Also new this year will be Garrocha pole riding, mule dressage, and mule tricks.

Old Doc Bell’s Tonics and Elixers will demonstrate the making of “all sorts of drinks and things” including ginger ale, root beer, birch creme soda, and lemonade, according to Singleton.

While Callaway Plantation will be open for viewing, the grey house and log cabin will feature weaving and quilting displays, where fifth-generation quilter, abolitionist, and historian Teresa Kemp will highlight an assortment of quilts and artifacts pertinent to the Underground Railroad.

Local talent Zena Zahran will be on the porch of the country store making pine straw baskets, showcasing this unique art form.

New to the musical scene this year, The Clay Babies will be performing at the Log Cabin.

The Garden City Strummers will perform in the brick house throughout the day, and with a club of dulcimer enthusiasts nearby listeners will enjoy the rustic harmonies of the mountain dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, and other acoustical instruments.

Other performances will include the HIT String Band, which will play in the schoolhouse throughout the day.

Historical Properties Director Janet Parker will be headquartered in the Smokehouse promoting other local attractions.

“With that we’re trying to pull the attention of our visitors and direct them to the other museums that we have in Washington,” Singleton said. “We want to establish the connection between education on the farmlands and education in town, and make people aware of the joined histories.”

Other events will include day-long demonstrations of turpentine production, soap making, and blacksmithing. Children can also enjoy many hands-on activities such as rope making and weaving on a loom. As guests walk the grounds, they will also see an impressive collection of antique cars and vintage tractors on display.

“It’s important for everybody to know that Brickhouse Road, normally the entrance to Callaway, will be closed, and the entrance to parking is on down beyond the mule corral,” Singleton explained.

Brickhouse Road, the narrow dirt county road that goes into city-owned Callaway Plantation, has long been inadequate to handle heavy, two-way traffic for Mule Day crowds, and for years, city and county leaders had talked about making changes to the layout, finally taking action in 2012. This will be the sixfh year with the new parking arrangement, and it seems to be working to keep back-up to a minimum on the Athens Highway, Singleton added.

The cost is $10 per vehicle, and guests will receive a brochure upon entry. The brochure will feature a map with outlined activities and the day’s itinerary.

Officials with Callaway Plantation and the Chamber of Commerce explained, “Mule Day takes place on the 56-acre Callaway Plantation and offers a glimpse into the bygone era of the agricultural south when working plantations speckled the land. Callaway Plantation tells the story of one family’s 200-year progression from a humble log cabin to a Greek-Revival mansion. With its collection of barns, schoolhouse, and three restored homes, Callaway Plantation provides the perfect background for this annual festival.”

Return to top