Sunday, July 22, 2012
Pioneer Days in Utah
If you've ever been out of the country at Thanksgiving or through December, you've probably noticed how the rest of the world only celebrates "the holidays" from Christmas to New Years. But in the US, we get to celebrate for an additional couple of weeks starting with Thanksgiving in November. Americans celebrate with parties the whole month, stretching out the enjoyment of the season for weeks.
In Utah, we have that same luck in the summer because the patriotic/historical season lasts an extra couple of weeks. When you are in Utah at the end of July, you simply must do as the locals do--Celebrate the 24th of July. We get extra fireworks and parades and everything. Known as Pioneer Day or the Days of '47, it is a celebration of the arrival of the first pioneer settlers in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24th 1847. It is a founder's day celebration of sorts--only bigger than you've probably seen other places. There are great parades, family barbeques and and events across the state. Everyone takes a break and enjoys another summer holiday.
In Salt Lake many families will grab the blankets and sleeping bags and camp out the night before with the huge slumber party that happens along the parade route. Then at 9am on the morning of the 24th, the parade starts, with great floats, bands, antique cars and thousands of people celebrating. The map of the route can be found at the official parade site.
That evening, the place to be is the Maverik Center at the Days of 47 Rodeo. Nationally known professional cowboys compete for prizes in several different events. The rodeo actually goes for several nights (starting this year on the 19th) culminating in the last evening on the 24th. Tickets can be purchase at the rodeo website.
But I think the best way to celebrate the 24th is with a visit to This Is The Place State Park. They celebrate Pioneer Days with special events, including a breakfast at the Huntsman Hotel, a flag ceremony, pioneer games, the watermelon eating contest, the candy cannon and lots of pony rides and special craft projects. You can really get into the pioneer spirit learning more about the settlers to the area amid the historical buildings and talented interpreters.