12th Annual Mule Jump Competition

June 1, 2019 @ 3:00 pm
West Plains Civic Center
Matt Meacham

The Old Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival will celebrate its 25th year Friday and Saturday, May 31 and June 1. The two-day annual event in downtown West Plains, Mo., celebrates Ozarks music and culture.  Admission to all festival events is free. Festival hours are noon-9 p.m. both Friday and Saturday.

 A demonstration of mule jumping will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, June 1, in the parking lot near the West Plains Senior Center at the corner of East Main and South Curry Streets. The 12th Annual Mule Jump Competition, sponsored by Hirsch Feed & Farm Supply, will take place at 6 p.m. that day.

Mule jumping, that most Missourian of Missouri folk arts, seems to have developed when raccoon hunters began training mules to jump over fences so that they did not have to interrupt the hunt to locate a gate.  It became a competitive event unto itself, and mule jumping contests began to take place at county fairs and town picnics throughout much of the rural Southeast and Midwest, especially Missouri. “Based on the research I’ve done, it appears that there are more mule jumps annually in Missouri than in any other state”, festival committee member Matt Meacham said.  “It seems safe to say that the Show-Me State is the mule-jumpingest state in the country.”

All trainers of jumping mules are invited to participate in the Festival’s mule jump competition.  Prizes of $100 (first place), $75 (second place), and $50 (third place) will be awarded in each of four classes based on the mule’s height: Mini – 36” and under, Small – 48” and under, Medium – 54” and under, Large – over 54”.  Standard Missouri rules will apply.  Water and ample space for trailers will be available.

Richie Dement of Centerville will coordinate the event again this year. He says of the Mini’s, “They start at 14 inches and finish about 46 to 48 inches.”  Their competition should be really fun to watch!