Mules rule bicentennial festivities

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 7, 2010

BUDE — Franklin County turned 200 this year, but old age certainly isn’t slowing this community down.

From a mule pull to a motorcycle competition, Saturday’s bicentennial celebration was the place to be, just ask the teenagers who traveled from New Orleans to watch.

“What could be more exciting than mules pulling weight,” asked 17-year-old Brent Jones, who lives in New Orleans but has family in Franklin County.

“When I heard about it I just had to be a part of it,” 18-year-old Stephen Barletter said. “I’d like to have a mule out there pulling.”

Making the two-and-a-half hour drive to see the mules, the two teenagers had to have front row seats — which turned out to be a plot of grass in front of a rusty fence.

The mules — as excited as you’d expect them to be — carried a 1,000-pound sleigh loaded with extra weight. The pullers rotated mules on and off the sleigh, hoping to make the best time to the finish.

Rudy Burge, from Sandhill, brought his team to compete.

“I’ve been fooling around with mules my whole life,” Burge said. “It brings back memories of when I was a youngin’, and I like to keep the tradition going.”

Chris Andrews, from Jackson County, was part of the mule-pull organizing team.

“The larger mules will easily pull twice their body weight,” Andrews said. “The packed clay will make it easier for them, so I think we’ll see a pair of mules pull more than 6,000 pounds today.”

The mule pull was what many came to see at the celebration, including Brooke Martin, 8.

“I like playing with mules,” she said. “They are fun to play with, and they are fun to ride.”

Savanna Newman, 13, came from Florida to Franklin County, where her family is from, and had never seen a mule pull.

“I thought that it was cool,” she said. “I never knew mules could be that strong. I thought they just stood around and ate grass all day.”

But the pull certainly wasn’t the only thing going in Franklin County Saturday. The bicentennial started off with a parade through downtown Bude, and Kayleigh Bolt, 8, rode on one of the fire trucks.

“I did not really get to see it all because I was in it, but I loved seeing my friends and throwing candy,” she said.

The celebration also had a motorcycle skills competition. Jon Brantlee, 5, watched from the sidewalk.

“I like them, but I wouldn’t want to ride one because I’m scared,” Brantlee said. “I’m scared of my paw paw’s motorcycle.”

Jacob Jordan, 11, had a motorcycle on training wheels since he was 3. Jordan, who was competing with his aunt in the skill competitions, helped the team come in second in the hula-hoop toss.

Bude Alderman Gary Huff said he was happy with the day, and the sense of unity being created between Roxie, Bude and Meadville.

“We worked so hard to get it together,” he said. “The turnout has been unbelievable, and I think it will get bigger as the day goes on.

“We were blessed with beautiful weather and the vender turnout was great,” Huff said. “It was a good time to come out and celebrate what God has given us — a wonderful county.”