Benson’s Mule Days Brings Home Southern Charm


Every year 60-70,000 people go to the small town of Benson, North Carolina.  Why would this many people go to a town of only 3,569? For nothing other than Benson Mule Days!  The event takes place at the end of September every year and includes rodeos, a mule pulling contest, arts and crafts, vendors, music, a parade that attracts 20,000 on its own, and more!  Festival goers can be seen around Benson on their horses, and people from as far as Wilmington travel on horse back to celebrate the event.

It may seem like such a festival wouldn’t draw the crowds that it does, but Benson’s Mule Days has become one of the largest festivals in North Carolina.  Travelers from Alaska, Germany, and California make their way to Johnston County in order to experience the small town, southern feel of this festival.  Benson is the perfect place to hold a festival like this because it is so small and has a historical downtown area.  When visitors walk through the aisles of arts and crafts and street vendors while hearing bluegrass music play in the background, they feel just as they should while in a small North Carolinian town.  There is plenty for people of all ages to enjoy while experiencing southern hospitality.

North Carolina’s image is perfectly illustrated by Benson’s Mule Days.  Those not from the south trying to get the experience of all that it has to offer need to look no further than Mule Days.

-Brie Golden, Micaela Fouhy, Will Cosden, Lindsey Baggett, Andrew Mayer


12 thoughts on “Benson’s Mule Days Brings Home Southern Charm

  1. I though this was a really interesting little article especially since we are just finishing up our own little festival weekend here in Wilmington. I think it is really cool when a small town can get some attention and probably some much needed tourism for just celebrating their own little quirkyness and traditions. I think it is really incredible the size of the crowd that shows up for Mule Day, giving the actual size of the town. My fiancee loves horses and I’m actually thinking it might be fun to surprise her and bring her to our first ever Mule Day experience.

    – Ray Sgambati

  2. This article is awesome! I cannot believe the amount of people that turn up for this event given the size of the town is extremely lower than the actual number of attendees. I really like that this kind of tradition is holding strong in changing times such as now. Everyone gets caught up indoors with advancing technology and very seldom stop to enjoy the little things in life. I come from a small town and grew up on a farm. As a child I remember riding our tractor into town and getting gas and my parents riding our horses around our fields. The fact there is still a festival that people ride their horses from all around to enjoy is awesome! I like they are keeping the old time traditions alive!

  3. This article is very interesting. I myself have attended Mule Days many years ago. It was definitely an experience and I was out of my comfort zone, especially since I just moved to North Carolina. Because of my first impression at Mule Days, I immediately formed my own opinion about North Carolina. After growing up in a town very similar, and not too far from Benson, I learned that a community as close as this uses something like Mule Days to celebrate their togetherness and to keep the tradition alive.

  4. I thought this article was the hilarious. I personally have never hear of Benson’s mule days but after reading it I was shocked to find out how much attention it recieved. I’m sure this event would give North Carolina a southern charm image but being from the north east I would have thought of NC as more of a hillbilly kind of place. We just don’t understand events like these and would have a good laugh about hearing about it, not to say that is the mature thing to do but definately the truth. It’s actually shocking to hear that 60,000 to 70,000 people showed up. That is such a great accomplishment for a town that only has a little over 3,000 people living there. The tradition should be kept up because it’s a great representation for NC to many people even if it’s not to us northeners

  5. I couldnt help but laugh throughout this article. I think that it is so cool because such a small town has gained so much press and publicity but also with so many people attending, like wow! I would love for big town people to get a “small town feel” because you feel so welcomed even by strangers. I think that people here in Wilmington can relate because we have the Azalea Festival every year and that gains so many tourists and so much publicity for this town; it is also well known throughout and a really fun festival to attend. I would love to attend the Benson Mule Days not only because I love horses but to say I’ve experienced it.

  6. This is so funny to me! I cannot believe such old traditions still exist! It is so interesting to me that this small town has found a way to use its traditions to create a name for its self. Even a town so small is stuck in its old ways. Things of this nature are impressive to get such a big turn out. It is a great economic strategy as well for the town to put on such a large event and bring recognition to the town. But ah, still so funny!

  7. I loved this blog. My family is from Johnston County and my parents have been to this festival several times. It is had to believe such a small town draws that large of a crowd to celebrate mules. I agree mule day is a great repersentation of what North Carolina is about. The festival is able to effectivly market NC image and story.

  8. This was a great article! I have personally never heard of the Mule Day festival in Benson, but it is amazing that such a small town hosts such a large event every year and attracts people all over the state of North Carolina to attend. I am from a small town and am very much involved in traditions. I think it is really great that Johnston county has been able to take one of their traditions and turn it into a major event. It is really cool how people ride their horses even from Wilmington to enjoy Mule Day. Everyone who loves Mule Day and horses is able to come together and celebrate a tradition that lives on. I love horses and I would love to attend Mule Day one day. I would like to be able to say that I took part in such a great tradition where North Carolina is greatly represented.

  9. When I first saw this article it automatically made me remember being hot, miserable, and bored at the tractor pulls I would have to go to with my family when I was little. A tractor pull and Benson’s Mule Days aren’t the same kind of thing at all, but the name of both events make you wonder, whats the point in that? With a tractor pull I will still argue that there is no point to go, but even though I have never been to the Mule Days festival, it sounds like a lot of fun. The huge amount of people that travel anywhere from a few miles to thousands of miles to celebrate Mule Days, shows that they’re effectively marketing their southern image.

  10. I had never heard of this festival before reading this blog entry, but it was really interesting to learn about – I guess it’s a little similar to our own Azalea Festival. It’s hard to believe that such a small thing could attract so many people to the area, especially such a small area at that. I never thought about mules representing the state’s history, but the festival really does seem to illustrate what the state’s about. It definitely seems like a fun, crowded event to go to.

  11. When I saw this article the other week, it made me laugh because I am from Johnston County ( I lived there for 8 years) and went to high school in Benson. I have participated in and attended Mule Days and not many people have heard of this festival. I am just curious about how you came across this festival or if any of the authors of this post has ever attend Mule Days? I say this because I don’t think that it’s the best festival to represent or illustrate what NC has to offer. Yes, I do agree that there is something to be said about the Southern charm and sense of community and pride that one can find in small towns like Benson, NC. But, I feel like unless you have actually attended this festival and really see what goes on (not just during the day, but at night too), I just can’t agree with this post. Don’t get me wrong, I love my hometown, I just think we can do better than that.

  12. I was actually happy to see this article, mainly because I attended the event this past fall with a few sorority sisters who are from Johnston County. I am from North Carolina and I had never heard of this event until this year. Reading this blog, I was shocked to read that people come from such distances to attend. How do they find out about it?
    I was also surprised that with as many people as there were, you still got that small town feel and it was tons of fun.

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