Jim Stromberg and his wife, Marilyn, that Stevensville are gaining ready for next weekend’s Mule Days. Because that the an initial time ever, the 25-year-old event will be organized in Hamilton at the Ravalli county Fairgrounds. The couple has been organizing the event for years the brings distant competitors to the valley for the festivities. PERRY BACKUS - Ravalli Republic

Remember him? Marshall Matt Dillon’s crotchety deputy top top thequintessential west drama, “Gunsmoke.”

“I watched that present a lot of and constantly thought it would be somuch fun to have actually my own mule,” claimed Marilyn Stromberg.

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She didn’t get any argument from her husband, Jim. The longtimehorseman had actually been wanting one self for years.

In 1980, the Stevensville couple bought their first mule indigenous anoutfitter. They immediately named the “Ruth.”

“Our an initial mule to be a actual character,” stated Jim Stromberg. “Welearned a lot around mules working with her … we’d placed the children onold Ruth and also if something poor happened ~ above the trail and we had ablow up, you’d find Ruth standing out of the method watching.”

More 보다 a 4 minutes 1 century later, the pair now has actually a pasturefilled v the critters and also every year they lead the charge inputting on an occasion that brings mule skinners together from allacross the West.

This year, for the first time ever, Montana Mule Days will certainly beheld in ~ the Ravalli ar Fairgrounds in Hamilton. For three daysbeginning June 13, the fairground’s arena will sport all sorts ofinteresting occasions that run the gamut from log in pulls and also halterclass competitions come the mayhem of the packer’s scramble and aneye-raising drill team do of males clad in dresses and wigs callingthemselves the Bitterroot Mulettes.

“It was all done ~ above a solitary day in a small bitty arena backthen,” Marilyn said. “There was a bar on one side, the highway onanother and also trees ~ above the various other two.”

When that is founder relocated away in 1990, Marilyn Stromberg raisedher hand and volunteered to take on the obligation of puttingon the event.

That an initial year the event was organized at the hole in the wall surface Lodgeup Fish Creek just outside of Missoula.

“It rained that entirety weekend,” Marilyn remembers. “It to be 16miles of the nastiest dirt road that you’d ever seen in yourlife.”

The following year they moved it to Drummond’s American Legion RodeoGrounds, wherein it continued to be until the relocate to Hamilton this year.

“The people that we’ve operated with in ~ the Ravalli CountyFairgrounds have actually been exorbitant to occupational with,” Marilyn said. “Theytold us this is the only equine occasion that’s organized at thefairgrounds any type of more.”

Contestants from as far away as California have signed increase toparticipate in this year’s Mule Days. The Strombergs speak thatspectators will likely come from also further away.

“The price that diesel could keep some civilization away, however we’restill expecting a great crowd,” Marilyn said.

For those who don’t recognize - a mule is a cross between a maledonkey (you speak to them a jack) and also a mrs horse, dubbed a mare. Ifyou cross a male steed with a woman donkey, you get a crittercalled a hinny.

“Some people say the dumbest mule is smarter 보다 the smartesthorse,” Jim said. “They simply have an ext common sense. They take careof themselves.”

“A mule’s foot is shaped like a donkey’s,” stated Jim. “It’soblong and has a thicker sole than a horse. A horse’s hoof is moreround.”

Because of that shape and also its careful nature, Jim said he’sfound that many mules are much more sure-footed in the mountains than ahorse.

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“Pound for pound, they’re stronger too,” that said. “As youprobably can tell, we choose our mules. I can talk every day aboutthem.”




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