During the last weekend of September, Mule Days is held in Benson. Conceived in 1949 by Nowell Smith, Jr., Mule Days is a four-day long festival. There are beauty pageants, livestock sales, nightly dancing, and a three-day rodeo. Mrs. Nowell Smith heads the annual parade as Grand Marshal. Thousands of people attend the festival each year. Although North Carolina's mule population dwindled in the past, it has grown steadily in the last twenty years, spurred in part by Mule Days.