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Bishop Mule Days

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Two mule drawn wagons in the Bishop Mule Days parade.
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A mule pack string in the Bishop Mule Days parade.
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Participants in the Bishop Mule Days stand for the Star Spangled Banner, with the Sierra Nevada in the background.
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A mule pack string operated by the United States Forest Service, carrying firefighting gear, and participating in Bishop Mule Days.
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The first pack string to reassemble and run out of the arena is the winner of the packing scramble.

Bishop Mule Days is an annual festival celebrating the mule, held over a six day period just before Memorial Day, in Bishop, California. Included are competitive events and the largest non-motorized parade in the United States. Now Bishop's largest event, it started as a small show in 1969. It has grown from a few hundred attendees to as many as 30,000. Among mule shows, Bishop Mule Days has been described as "The Granddaddy of Them All". [1]

Bob Tallman has been the senior announcer of Bishop Mule Days for over 20 years. [2] Also included are an arts and crafts show, and a country and western musical concert. The featured musical performer in 2010 was Lonestar.


The parade

The annual Bishop Mule Days parade takes place on the Saturday morning before Memorial Day. The parade proceeds north on U.S. Route 395 through downtown Bishop. No motorized vehicles or floats are allowed, and all entries must either be on foot, or use mules or horses. The 2010 parade had 110 units, including 18 mule pack strings from commercial pack stations and government agencies including the United States Forest Service, the National Park Service and the Mountain Warfare Training Center operated by the United States Marine Corps. Many historic mule drawn and horse drawn vehicles participate. Although most parade units are from California, units from Idaho, Nevada, Iowa, Arizona, Oregon and Utah participated in 2010.

Grand marshalls of the parade in past years have included Ronald Reagan [3] and Norman Livermore.


Competitive events take place over a six day period at the Tri-County Fairgrounds in Bishop. "A full slate of competitive events is featured, including events such as barrel racing, calf roping, steer stopping, cow penning, flat racing, and carriage driving. Activities also range from packing to dressage, and from team chariot racing to mule shoeing contests." [4] There were nearly 220 events in 2010.

The packing scramble

The packing scramble is a competitive event unique to Bishop Mule Days. Mule pack strings enter the arena, and are unloaded and untethered. Rodeo cowboys then stampede the herd, firing blank gunshots. The event is desctribed as a "wild and wooly spectacular" with "more than one hundred horses and mules running loose in the arena." [5] "Teams of professional backcountry packers compete against each other for bragging rights. Each team must wrangle its own mules out of a herd in the arena, pack them correctly, and race around to the finish line as spectators whoop, cheer and jeer." [6] The winning team is the one that is first to reassemble and reload its pack string, and lead it out of the arena.


  1. Hauer, John; Hauer, Sena (2006). The Natural Superiority of Mules. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot. pp. 29. ISBN 1592288642. 
  2. Event Program (2010), "2010 Mule Days Celebration: The Year of the Packer", Bishop Mule Days 
  3. Ellis, Darcy (November 23, 2007), "Magazine nominates Mule Days for Western awards", Inyo Register, http://www.inyoregister.com/content/view/69909/1/ 
  4. Attar, Cynthia (2009). The Mule Companion: A Guide to Understanding the Mule. CCB Publishing. pp. 26. ISBN 0965177653. 
  5. Hauer, John; Hauer, Sena (2006). The Natural Superiority of Mules. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot. pp. 29. ISBN 1592288642. 
  6. Wall, Debra (April 26, 2009), "Best of small-town West is focused in Bishop", Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com/living/43733692.html 

External Links

Bishop Mule Days


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