I Got My Kicks At Calvary, Georgia’s Mule Day

Last week,  I discussed how this is the season for all sorts of festivals in my area.  So having talked the talk, Saturday it was time to walk the walk…

Three festivals beckoned me.  Locally, there was the Greek Food Festival sponsored by the Greek Orthodox Church.  Besides all sorts of Greek food (souvlaki, gyros, baklava, etc.) there’d also be Greek singing and dancing.

About 70 miles away, in the small fishing town of Apalachicola was a monster festival: the boldly proclaimed 49th Florida Seafood Festival.  I’ve been to this before but now it is so huge, and parking so bad, that I avoid the hassle.

That left the 40th Mule Day, sponsored by the Lions Club, just across the Georgia border in the small town of Calvary.  This is another monster festival, with over 450 vendors this year.  Mule Day got the nod.

My strategy to deal with the crowds was to arrive later in the afternoon, after the parade of mules.  It’s only 20 miles to Calvary, so we left about 2.  As we pulled off the four lane highway for the last three miles to Calvary on a two lane road, I knew my strategy was good.  There was a three mile stream of cars leaving the festival at a snail’s pace.

I had no problem finding a free parking space along the side of the road about 300 yards from the festival  grounds.  Some folks had parked two miles away, probably because all the free and paid ($3-$5) parking was gone.

As we wandered the grounds, it seemed to me that half the vendors were selling food.  Besides all the “usual suspects” you find at a festival (cotton candy, funnel cakes, hot dogs, barbeque, etc.) there were many ” Deep South thang” items, such as alligator kabobs.  And of course all sorts of fried favorites: fried green tomatoes, fried pickles, fried Twinkies and Oreos, etc.

Prices were a bit steep, but I allowed myself a few indulgences, such as a quart bag of boiled peanuts ($2).  And since it was getting late in the day, some vendors began discounting.  I picked up a generous sized (8″ x 4″ x 2″) loaf of sourdough oatmeal bread for $3.  One of the loaves was broken and the vendor gave me that loaf free.

My missed opportunity was stumbling upon a Filipino couple selling all sorts of wood items at very reasonable prices.  Here was an opportunity for some Christmas presents!  I didn’t want to lug all that wood in the fairly warm sun (I was sweating even without carrying anything) so I decided I’d swing by on my way out. But when I stopped by again, they had left.

We left about 4 PM but even then there was still a line of cars over two miles long snaking along the two lane road to the highway back to Florida.  It took us  25 minutes to travel those less than three miles, which is about how long it took to drive the remaining 20 odd miles back home.

Today, we’ll have dinner at the Greek Food Festival. Two festivals in two days…that’s living high on the festival hog!  (In other words, center cut pork chops and not pig’s feet, which is as low on the hog as you can get.)

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3 responses to “I Got My Kicks At Calvary, Georgia’s Mule Day

  1. I like your strategy for dealing with crowds. The drive, lack of parking and too many people can really ruin the fun of a festival experience. And knowing your love for a bargain, I’m sure this was considered a very successful festival experience. Hope the Greek Food Festival is just as good!

  2. You could have made it much easier on yourself if you had kept on going on 27 for about two more miles, turned off on the Climax, Ga highway, then turned immediately to your right and gone into Calvary the back way…then drove right out to the Mule Show and the back side of the vendor booths. No trafffic, no parking problems. Try that next year. And stay for the mule show; you’d enjoy it.

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