Jake Clark’s Mule Days: Clark family carries on passion for raising, using and selling mules
Jake Clark began using mules in the 1970s, as they were less expensive than horses and more durable for packing. According to Jake’s wife Kay, the couple discovered how reliable mules were in a pack string and slowly began to convert to a mule string.
“The Clarks started Wyoming Wilderness Outfitters in 1978, providing guests with an enjoyable and satisfying vacation and memories of a lifetime as they are led throughout the backcountry of Wyoming and into Yellowstone National Park on the backs of their trusted mules,” shares Kay.
“By 1985, Jake was an adamant mule lover and not only converted his pack animals to mules but his riding animals as well. Twenty-five years ago, the Clark family started a tradition – Jake Clark’s Mule Days – celebrated every Father’s Day weekend,” she adds.
Jake and Kay’s son TJ, the new owner of the family operation, believes mules are superior livestock. He explains his dad used to breed mules for years, but the family no longer runs a breeding operation, although they still continue to use them.
“Mules are less nervous and more surefooted than a horse, and if I have to saddle up to chase cows in the high country, I’m saddling my mule,” he says.
“Plus, they are less likely to get hurt and many times, smarter than the rider,” Kay adds.
“Jake Clark’s Mule Days and America’s Finest Select Saddle Mule Auction has become one of the best events around, and this year my wife and I took over the reins and are carrying on the tradition where buyers can buy with confidence and have a very good idea of the type of mule they are purchasing, as all auction mules are required to be guaranteed sound by the seller,” mentions TJ.
“The goal of mule days is to bring together America’s finest saddle mules and create a venue where the mules can show off their qualities – true nature and disposition – while also creating the first mule rodeo,” he continues.
“Mule days are seven days of fun-filled excitement, consisting of vendors, a mule clinic, mounted shooting, team sorting, team roping, barrel racing, a rodeo, dinner, a barn dance and even a parade. And, as always, the America’s Finest Select Saddle Mule Auction,” Kay says.
“Don’t forget the most important part of mule days – our pie auction,” she continues.
“We have created a Friday night auction, where we hope to bring awareness to nonprofit organizations who continue to improve our quality of life,” Kay adds. “Our Friday night auction includes items from Cody Country Outfitters, which benefits their scholarship fund, and 4-H students bring desserts and pies to be auctioned off to support their local club and generate interest in 4-H.”
The Clark family’s mule days have sponsored numerous scholarships including the Jake Clark’s Mule Days Linnabur Scholarship for current or former 4-H or FFA members in Park County or Big Horn County, who have been involved with Jake Clark’s Mule Days and are a graduating high school senior who will be attending the University of Wyoming or an accredited college.
Jake Clark’s Mule Days is a great time for all, so it is always best to reserve a camp spot and dinner tickets early. The team starts taking consignments in October.
For more information on Jake Clark’s Mule Days, visit saddlemule.com.
Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.