This weekend is the annual Benson Mule Days, a festival that will give you a crash course on the culture of rural North Carolina.
The festival has gone on for 63 years and has a huge following of people who come from across North Carolina and beyond, many with mules, horses and wagons in tow. More than 40,000 people turn out over four days, and some camp out for the weekend in a town park.
Events run all weekend, including Friday, and include rodeos, mule races, a huge parade, carnival rides, street dances and live bluegrass performances.
Today is the day to see most of the mule action. In Benson’s Chamber Park and Arena, there will be mule pulls with sleds, a mule race and judging of the mules. You can also see a rural hunting tradition called “coon jumping,” in which mules jump over fences from a standstill.
On Saturday, the big event is a 10 a.m. parade through downtown Benson. In addition to the “Grand Champion” mule, chosen on Friday, there will be antique tractors, livestock and beauty queens on parade. Afterward, there will be live bluegrass, carnival rides and vendors.
On Sunday, carnival rides continue and you can see a youth rodeo.
On Friday and Saturday nights, there will be rodeos, carnival rides and a street dance. But things have been known to get rowdy, so you might want to steer clear of the later events with young children.
For all the details, go to www.bensonmuledays.com.
From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., museum admission will also get you into a special exhibit called “Heroes, Villains and Special Effects,” which explains the science behind special effects, makeup artistry, video game design, comic book art and staged combat.
You can see an exoskeleton used in special effects, get tips on creating special effects in home movies, swap comic books and learn about the process of creating video games.
More information: www.ncmls.org.