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Celebrating Utah’s Pioneer Day

Rodeo queens riding into an arena on a demolition derby car, holding an American flag

Most of my summers during college were spent working at summer camps around the country, but one summer, I decided to stay at BYU. I wasn’t taking classes, so the summer was filled with hikes in the mountains, trips to Arches National Park, and the biggest 4th of July celebrations I’ve ever been a part of. But if I thought the 4th was fun, I had no idea how big Pioneer Day would be. In fact, I’d never even heard of Pioneer Day until that summer, but lemme tell you, Utah takes it ser-i-ous-ly. There isn’t a town in Utah that doesn’t put on their own celebrations, and some of the smaller towns put on the very best shindigs.

So this year, when my dear friends Leslie[1] and Val invited me to join them in the sweet little town of Fairview, UT, for Pioneer Day, how could I resist? See two of my besties AND celebrate Utah’s favorite day? Sign me up!

Rise and Shine

Pioneer Day in Fairview starts at 6am, whether you’re a morning person or not. The town starts the day with exploding cannons and sends every emergency vehicle they have racing up and down the streets with their sirens blaring. I’m really glad Leslie and Val warned me about this because if I had been surprised by all heck breaking loose at 6 in the morning, I might have gone into cardiac arrest.

Pioneer Day Parade

After an early morning fun run (which I didn’t participate in—I am not a runner) and a healthy breakfast, we gathered on State Street (the main drag) for the parade. If you combined all of the candy from every parade I’ve ever been to in my life, it still wouldn’t match the amount of candy this parade tossed into the crowd. All of the kids came away looking like they’d gone trick-or-treating—a couple of times over! There were firetrucks with hoses to spray down the masses, painted horses, beauty queens, and classic cars. It was about as American as you could get, and I loved every minute.

The Car Show

I’ve mentioned before that I inherited a love of classic vehicles from my dad, so I was excited to check out Fairview’s Pioneer Day Car Show. There was a good variety of classics, and the colors were amazing. My favorite was a row of brightly colored trucks. How cheerful is that? They also had a good selection of vintage tractors, which did my ag-loving heart some good, too.

Demolition Derby

But the best classics of the day were definitely the rust buckets playing bumper cars at the Demolition Derby that night. What a riot! If the sound of stock cars revving their engines and slamming into each other at full speed doesn’t get your blood pumping, I don’t know what will. It was loud, it was rowdy, and it was oh so fun. If you’ve never been to a demolition derby, you need to add it to your bucket list right now.

Here’s a video I put together to give you a taste of the action:

Happy Pioneer Day, Utah! Thanks for the great day!

Pioneer Day Inspiration

If you’re looking for more inspiration for your next Pioneer Day festivities, check out these great resources:

Do you Celebrate Pioneer Day in your hometown?

I’d love to hear about it! Tell us all about it in the comments below or over on our Facebook page.

[1] Remember her? She’s the one I went backpacking across Europe with.

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Jess Friedman
Jess is a Canadian-American who’s always ready for the next adventure. She loves all things living, always has a million creative projects in progress, and polishes her nerd badge daily. She is passionate about helping families make and preserve treasured memories that strengthen bonds across generations. You can read more posts by Jess here.

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