The 24th annual Pea Ridge Mule Jump made its way to Northwest Arkansas Saturday.
Last year’s event drew more than 6,000 attendees. The event includes competitive mule jumping, barrel and flag racing, halter class (mule beauty pageant), pole bending, and more.
It's a unique event that comes to northwest Arkansas just once a year, said Pea Ridge Mayor, Jackie Crabtree.
"It's special, it's just a fun, fun time,” Crabtree said. “When we talk to a lot of people and tell them it's a mule jump they look at you with a question on their face. But, it's just a special thing watching those animals do something that most other animals won't do."
Every year Pea Ridge's population more than doubles for the day as thousands of spectators flood into town to see the mules perform.
“These mules are not just mules that you just go get off the farm,” said Nathan Lee, Mule Jump Committee Chair. “These mules are trained; they definitely have a lot of different characteristics with them. Some of them that jump are going to be jumping just because the handler is going to whisper in their ear. They all have different, unique ways of making them jump.”
10-year-old Alexa Higgins brought her 28-year-old mule, Lovely Lady, in from Greentop, MO.
She has her own, special way of coercing her mule to jump.
“You just kind of kiss to her and mess with her,” she said.
Alexa has been working with Lady since she was just 5 years old.
Over the last five years, Alexa and Lady have spent a lot of time together, forming a special bond.
"I ride her a lot and I have won like three high points with her," said Higgins.
It was too windy Saturday for the bounce house inflatable but there were plenty of other activities for children, including face painting.
Proceeds from the event go to Pea Ridge Parks and Recreation and go toward next year`s Mule Jump.
Next year will be the Pea Ridge Mule Jump`s 25th anniversary and organizers promise that event will be the largest yet.