The 15th annual Mule Roundup has come and gone with great success.
What began in 1994 as “The Country Boy Plow Club” with about 200 members gathering on the Spires’ farm for plowing, food and fun, has now become one of Alma’s largest events.
My father-in-law, James Spires, founded the plow club to invite others on a trip down memory lane. Friends and family gathered with their mules, mule-drawn plows, wagons, campers and tents to enjoy the nostaglic weekend.
Word of the event spread and it has turned into a Bacon County tradition.
I remember taking a field trip to the Roundup with my classmates as a child in school. We got to see all the animals, crafts, and demonstrations for free.
I never knew how much went into preparing for this event, however, until I married into the Spires family. After Harley and I were married, I was shown pictures and told stories of just how much sweat and time goes into preparing for such a large event. I soon realized I was going to be part of a family tradition, a tradition Harley’s parents take great pride in.
The land surrounding the Mule Round-up site hasn’t always been as organized as it is today. Originally, it was nothing but woods and weeds. James and his wife, Barbara, along with their sons, Harley and Aaron, cleared the land and used logs harvested to build some of the structures you see while visiting the Round-up, like the Guysie General Store.
Now I get to experience first-hand what it takes to put on such a wonderful event. Not only is there lots of grass to be cut, there's also the tasks of booking entertainment and advertising.
Advertising is the key to letting people know what kind of event you are having. This includes recruiting vendors at other festivals to come to this one. Mailing hundreds of responses lets vendors and spectators know about the event. It takes a lot of time, hard work, and most of all, dedication.
I worked the gate this year and noticed people here from all over Georgia and middle Florida. Many have been coming for years, some since the event began, but we had a lot of “first timers” this year as well. Many of those first timers let us know they plan to be back again next year. That must mean we're doing something right.
Barbara works hard to book entertainers who will please the crowd. One thing I look forward to each year is Bobbie the ventriloquist, and her doll, “Chucky.” Her act is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. She involves the audience, teasing them good naturedly. This year, she schemed with me before the show to pick on my husband. I learned the hard way, though, that you never trust a woman with a “talking” wooden doll.
I thought she was going to pick on Harley, but when she took the stage, the joke was on me! I was the target, and I turned ten different shades of red. It was funny, though, and everyone had a great time.
It's now time for us to recuperate and start getting ready for next year.
It will be here before we know it.
• Angela Spires is a staff writer for The Alma Times. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.