THE AMERICAN Mule and Bluegrass Festival will welcome visitors to the Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, Sept. 13-18. One of the main goals of the event will be educating visitors about the history and value of mules, according to Marty Ray Gordon, organiz- er of the festival. The festival will feature various events, including bluegrass concerts; crafts fair; mule show, mule clinics, mule logging competition and mule demonstra- tions; square dancing and cloggers; a wagon train; chuck- wagon cooking; Pickers Alley with a stage, where pickers and bands will showcase their musical talents.
Gordon decided to launch the initiative a few months ago. A team of supporters joined Gordon to create an event aiming to unite the community and help charities.
“I had been sitting around, looking at the news, frustrated with all the stuff that’s been going on, and that wasn’t helping anyone,” Gordon said. “I decided to do something to help somebody.” Gordon decided to create a fun festival and provide funds for worthy causes. He wanted to entertain visitors and educate them about mules.
Gordon inherited determination and dedication from his grandfather and uses these qualities to aid organizations in need. The American Mule and Bluegrass Festival will provide enter- tainment with the goal to raise funds.
“We decided to include bluegrass to get people to come and listen to music,” Gordon said. “At the same time, we will educate people about mules. The mule has pulled people out of the Great Depression. The mule pulled us out of war – mules participated in every war we had. There’s no reason mules can’t help to provide funds for charities and help them get back on their feet.That’s what I’m trying to do – leverage the mule and give some entertainment through bluegrass and crafts. The mule, the bluegrass, and the crafts are all American-made. What the mules are going to be pulling for now is charity. In the past they ploughed the dirt, put the seed in, pulled the loads. Now, we are loading the wagon with charities.”
The five charities the event will support are Shelbyville Soup Kitchen, the Boys and Girls Club of Bedford County, the Habitat for Humanity, the Center for Family Develop- ment of Shelbyville, and Horse Play of Coffee County.
“We will showcase the mule, the bluegrass and the crafts to support these organizations,” Gordon said.
One of the event’s highlights will be educating the youngest visitors.
“We want to educate the youth and people who want to learn about mules and the equipment,”Gordon said.“We will have a learning center, where kids can become a junior mule skinner. They will learn how to hook mules up, about the parts of the harness and the implements that they pull.”
Vendors will ensure visitors enjoy tasty meals and American craftsmanship.
“We expect to have food trucks so people can expect to eat good food,”Gordon said.“We have about 30 spots for vendors to display their handmade crafts.”
The event will offer camping, as well.
“Wehave350campsitesavailabletorent,withelectricandwa- ter, and nearly 2,000 stalls to rent,” Gordon said. -GN