By The Dunn Daily Record
BENSON — The small town of Benson, with a population of around 4000, will swell to approximately 20,000 come Sept. 22-25, 2022 when the 73rd annual Benson Mule Days Celebration, sponsored by the Benson Area Chamber of Commerce, takes place.
A blanket of excitement covers the area as visitors merge into the town area and outlying regions bringing horses, mules, wagons, campers, and unusual equine contraptions to settle down for a four-day hiatus. Wednesday and Thursday campers settle in as they prepare to attend the concert that will be held on Thursday night at 6 in the Benson Singing Grove on Main Street.
This year’s band is Nashville artist John Conlee. There is no charge for general seating admission. If you want a seat near the stage with a chair provided, the cost is $20 per person.
Friday, visitors can take in many events including the “Mule Competitions” held in the Chamber Park and Arena. They will see, a mule race, Best of Show, and many other events.
New this year is “Mules Got Talent.” From these competitors, the “Grand Champion” is chosen and will be in the Benson Mule Days parade on Saturday.
Downtown will be full of vendors and entertainment on the Parrish Drive Stage.
Want to see a real mule stable? Check out the last-standing mule stable in Benson during the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. You will also be able to take a tour of Benson in a horse-drawn wagon.
Double Creek Pro Rodeo will once again present an SRA-sponsored rodeo on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoon there will be a Junior Rodeo presented by the Benson Buckaroos Association. The rodeos on Friday and Saturday begin at 7:30 and Sunday at 2 p.m. There will be pony rides for the little cowboys and cowgirls.
After the rodeo on Friday and Saturday, you can shake a leg at the Mule Day Dance. Friday night’s Band is Eric Strickland and Saturday’s is Jonathan Parker. If you attend the rodeo there is no admission charge. You can come for the dance only for a $5 charge. Beverages will be available for purchase.
Saturday is a big day at Benson Mule Days as thousands of spectators grapple for a place to sit or stand to observe one of the biggest parades in North Carolina. Bands, floats, Shriner units, classic cars, antique tractors, unique entries, beauty queens, and hundreds of horses, mules, buggies, wagons, and more make their way down Main Street of Benson beginning at 10 a.m.
Following the parade visitors can make their way to the Singing Grove Park where a Classic Country Concert featuring Moe Bandy is being presented, and visit the arts and crafts vendors as well the commercial vendors.
Want to ride a bucking bull? A mechanical one will be located on vendor row.
For more information, you can call 919-894-3825 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Need a camping lot or vendor information? You may contact the Benson Area Chamber of Commerce at the same numbers. Details are available at www.bensonmuledays.com.
Sept. 9-10 — Crepe Myrtle Celebration, Depot Square, downtown Angier. Kick-off concert and food trucks 7-10 p.m. Sept. 9. Main day of festivities, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 10, featuring live entertainment, vendors, food trucks, rides and games for children, and more. Contact the Angier Chamber of Commerce at 919-639-2500.
Sept 10 — Four Oaks Acorn Festival, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., downtown. Classic car and antique tractor show, food trucks, business expo, handcrafted market, Kid Zone, inflatables, face painting, train rides, and more. Admission is free. Unlimited ride armbands cost $10. Live music, including Real Rowdy, on the stage at the Barbour’s Grove Oak Pavilion. For details, contact the Four Oaks Chamber of Commerce at 919-963-4004.
Sept. 22-25 — Benson Mule Days Celebration.
Sept. 23-24 — Lillington’s Cape Fear Fest. Friday Fest will feature a night full of live music provided by the Carolina Moondogs along with food and beverage vendors. The entertainment will take place from 7 to 10 p.m. Sept. 23 at Lillington Riverfront Park, 235 E. Duncan St. The 2022 event will take place Saturday, Sept. 24, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the intersection of First and Front streets. It will include bounce houses for the kids, various craft and merchandise vendors, food and refreshments. For details, contact the Lillington Chamber of Commerce at email@example.com or 910-893-3751.
Sept. 24 — Erwin Denim Days Gospel Concert featuring The Hoppers, 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, at Triton High School, 215 Maynard Lake Road, Erwin. Free.
Oct. 1 — Erwin Denim Days, 2 to 8 p.m., 100 N. 13th St., downtown Erwin, featuring a golf cart parade, car show, vendors, kids games, food vendors, music and more. For more information, contact the Erwin Area Chamber of Commerce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-897-7300.
Oct. 7-8 — Coats Farmers Day Festival, downtown, day-long event 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, featuring a vendors, arts and crafts, food, parade, Kids Park Carnival, car show, farm equipment show, and much more. A Farmers Day Festival Street Dance will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, on Main Street featuring Jim Quick and Coastline. Other activities include a Pig Cook-off Sept. 16 and barbecue sale Sept. 17; a Golf Tournament Sept. 22; and gospel sing Oct. 2. For details, contact the Coats Area Chamber of Commerce at 910-897-6213.
Nov. 5 — 22nd annual NC Cotton Festival, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., downtown Dunn. Two concert stages featuring North Tower Band, The Castaways, Gaylon Pope and Sweetwater, and Fatmouth. More than 150 artisans, commercial, and food vendors are expected. There will be a Kiddie Land area, Cotton Gin tours, and the Dunn Shriner’s car show. For more information, visit https://nccottonfestival.com/ or call 910-892-3282.