Working Animals

Farm animals have literally pulled their weight through Blue Ridge history.  The Blue Ridge Folklife Festival showcases the skills of both the animals and their handlers in an array of contests and demonstrations.  (See the Schedule page for times and locations.  See the Registration page to preregister a horse or mule for competition.)


  • Horse & Mule Pulling Contests–Teams of draft horses and mules compete to see which can drag the heaviest weight.
  • Coon Mule Jumping Contest–Unlike horses, mules will jump a fence without any running start, making them the perfect nighttime ride for raccoon hunters in earlier times.  The mules compete to see which can jump over the highest barrier.
  • AKC and Grade Coon Dog Bench Show–In something akin to a dog beauty show, the dogs are judged on their appearance and conformation.
  • Coon Dog Treeing Contest–The bark of a coon dog tells the hunter a lot of information.  The dogs compete to see which one barks up a tree at a raccoon-scented rag the most number of times in 30 seconds.
  • Coon Dog Water Race–These prized hunting dogs swim after a raccoon-scented rag across Adams Lake on the Ferrum College campus.  There can be two winners in each race–the first to cross the finish line at the edge of the lake and the first to “tree” the rag with a bark.


  • Amazing Grace, The Movie Star Mule–If Grace were not a mule, she would be a pig–she loves to ham it up.  Grace entertains the crowd with all of the tricks she has used in her career in the movies.
  • Sheep Herding–There’s nothing more focused than a sheep dog on the job.  Virginia’s finest farm dog trainer uses whistles to put his dogs and the sheep through their paces.


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