Muletown MusicFest â€~Year Oneâ€TM Slated for Early October in Columbia By Lee Morgan

Thereâ€TMs a new mule in town.

As the fall approaches, the people of Columbia, Tennessee, are bracing for the launch of a new music and food festival aimed at celebrating the community and all it has to offer. The Muletown MusicFest will descend on the courthouse square the first weekend in October in the first of what the organizers hope is a long-running annual event.

Since 1840, Columbia, Tennessee, has been the site of an annual gathering known as Mule Day. That four-day celebration of all things “mule” each spring has grown into a crowd pleaser that draws nearly a quarter million people each year. The Muletown MusicFest is another animal entirely. Instead of being about the mules, this event focuses on the people of Maury County, the food they produce and the plethora of establishments offering live entertainment and quality goods.

MusicFest board member Joel Friddell is one of the main organizers and hopes to start a long-standing tradition this fall.

“Mule Day obviously has a very historic role in Columbia and reaches through generations,” Friddell said. “That creates quite a shadow and also a challenging target—to become a defining part of our identity. However, that is just what we would like Muletown MusicFest to be. By putting the spotlight on the venues we currently have in town, the festival invites people in Maury County to rediscover the Square and find out all that is new and wonderful. At the same time, we are encouraging those from the surrounding counties to come and discover what we have to offer. The great thing is that, unlike many festivals, you can come back to Columbia in a week or two with friends and have the same experience of live music, local foods, unique venues and shops.”

The Muletown MusicFest will span three days, October 2-4, with a VIP ticketed event kicking off the festivities on Friday night at the Columbia location of Puckettâ€TMs Grocery. While there are limited wristbands available for the VIP experience, which includes admission to the kickoff and all three ticketed venues on Saturday, there will be a lot going on that is free of charge.

“There will only be 1000 wristbands available for purchase,” Friddell said. “However, we expect to see many times that on the Square during the event because the majority of events and music will be completely free to the public. With so many shops hosting events, there are lots of reasons to go and see what we have in store. Plus, there will be some surprises—guaranteed!”

Perhaps as interesting as the events and music planned for the festival are the plans for the food options. How many times do festivalgoers arrive at one of countless locations only to find the standard fare of funnel cakes, polish sausages, corn dogs and other carnival mainstays on offer? Too often, say the organizers of the event. Thatâ€TMs why theyâ€TMve taken a different approach to the culinary side of the MusicFest, guaranteeing what you eat will be unique to Maury County.

“We have great food offerings in our area. Too often, festivals bring in vendors from a circuit that does not represent the real food scene of a community,” Friddell said. “From the first day of planning, we knew that this festival had to be sourced locally. It was decided that all food vendors had to meet the requirement of having a â€~brick and mortarâ€TM establishment in Maury County. It has allowed all of us to discover restaurants that each of us did not know were in our county. Committee members suggested restaurants and personal invitations have gone out to as many as possible.”

The establishments on the courthouse square will, of course, be a part of the menu. These include Puckettâ€TMs Grocery, Lucilleâ€TMs Diner, Venue Tenn and Square Market. But that is just the beginning. While the committee was not comfortable providing a definitive list at press time, many high quality local restaurants are invited to take part in a food court that will be set up right on the courthouse square itself.

The music lineup will include acts such as 18 South with special guest John Oates, Tim Akers & The Smoking Section, Phil Mediera, Farmer Jason and many more.

The Sunday Social will wrap up the festivities on Sunday on the steps of the courthouse. “[The Sunday Social] will be a joining of multiple church choruses to sing on the 

steps of the Maury County Courthouse,” Friddell said. “This will be a community event to cap off the MusicFest with all of our voices joined in singing the songs that we all know so well, in harmony and side by side with friends, family and neighbors.”

In the end, thatâ€TMs what Muletown MusicFest appears to be trying to do. The event is aiming to bring together members of the Columbia community and beyond to expose the best of what the county has to offer.

VIP tickets ($50) are currently on sale through the event website at www.muletownmusicfest.com and at the Maury County Visitors Bureau. Access to the rest of the festival is free to everyone. Profits from the festival will go to benefit the United Way of Maury County. The festival is also still seeking local food vendors and volunteers. Those interested should visit the website.