Where: Powellville, Md.

Why: A cozy cafe, retro racing and four-legged fun.

How Far: About 90 miles, or two hours from Stevensville, Md.

Talk about no respect: Mules have a reputation for being bad-tempered and lumbering, unlike their more celebrated counterparts, horses. But once a year on the Eastern Shore, the Delmarva Coonhunters Association (a 38-year-old raccoon hunting and community service group) rolls out the red carpet for the long-eared horse-donkey hybrids at its rodeo-like Mule Show, in Powellville, Md. Wait -- aren't these legendarily stubborn creatures too crotchety to compete? Hardly. Visit next Sunday and you'll see hurdle jumps (in which mules make the leap with no rider and no running start), barrel races (where they zip around three hefty cylinders) and mailbox races (in which riders grab a newspaper out of a mailbox, then insert it in another, while trying not to look like a horse's you-know-what). Cheering onlookers can munch on oyster fritters, a local specialty, and little riders can get a feel for the saddle by taking a spin on a pony.

Start your trip at indie cafe Beanos, a bite-size nook in Stevensville, Md., that offers hot ham and cheese sandwiches, bagels by the bag, and a selection of free, ready-to-read newspapers. Furniture scavengers should pop into White Swan Antiques, a warehouse of discarded treasures in Denton, Md., that features a maze of stepback cupboards, fireplace mantelpieces, Bombay-style cabinets and stained glass (some of it rescued from old churches).

In Laurel, Del., you'll find relics of a different sort: slot cars! For $3, you can race a remote-controlled mini-car on an eight-lane track at Go 'n Fast Slotcar Raceway Hobbies and Games. Finally, go curio-hunting at the Country Shoppe in Salisbury, Md., where owner Tina Parsons decorates "grandmother clocks," her husband, Wayne, constructs candle trays, and her mother-in-law, Roxy, crochets patterned afghans. Talk about a family affair.

The 27th Annual Mule Show takes place Oct. 17, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., at the Delmarva Coonhunters Association Club. For more info, call 410-835-2750 or e-mail coonhunters@hotmail.com.

Tony Sclafani

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