Pioneer Day – Escalante Style
July 24th is a big deal in Utah. The date commemorates the day Brigham Young first set foot in the Salt Lake Valley and declared to his fellow Mormon pioneers: “This is the right place.” But July 24th, better known as “Pioneer Day,” isn’t just an LDS holiday—it’s a celebration of everyone who emigrated to Utah during the pioneer era, and a chance for all of us to reflect on and revel in the pioneering spirit. Whether it’s your first pioneer day or your 50th, a lot of the best ways to celebrate the 24th most have been cancelled this year .
I haven’t seen any cancellation of the Escalante events this year, as Garfield County is in the green stage of Covid-19. That’s wonderful, as it is the highlight of the year for many families.
The town goes from 600 residents to 1,200. Between tourists and families coming home to be with parents and grandparents, it’s one giant party. Even if you don’’t know anyone but just want to enjoy a “Hometown Party” this is the place.
We were stunned the first year we lived there and the cannon went off at 5AM. Little did we know we were right next to where they shot it off. We couldn’t figure out what in the world was going on, until the Lion’s Band Wagon showed up complete with 5 piece band and a piano.
From there, the day just rolls along. I see from the flyer a couple of the events have gone away. There used to be a pancake breakfast at the Potato Valley Lions Club Pavilion, but that group has been disbanded (too many of us moved on or passed away). And the Boy Scouts did their annual fundraiser dinner late in the afternoon. You could always buy some of the leftover, super tender beef for your freezer.
But the parade was always the best part for the kids. They have their own parade in the morning and most follow along with parents in the main parade. But the end of the parade brings out the fire trucks and anyone close by gets wet. Since it’s in the 80’s by this time it feels great. Up the street from that the Griffin Family puts on a skit and old-fashioned western town shoot-out in front of their second generation market. All good fun. All good people.
And the end of the day, everyone has had too much sun, a lot of fun, too much food, and a bunch of western dudes. The challenge is to stay awake for the fireworks, courtesy of Escalante City Fire Department.
Whether you are just visiting or looking for something to do because most of the events in Iron County have been cancelled, think about Escalante. If there aren’t any hotel rooms left by the time you read this, think staying in Tropic at the Red Ledges Inn.
Have fun. Be safe.
Until next time – – –
Click Here to enjoy this collection of images from Pioneer Days – Escalante Style – from 2007 and 2009 Click on first image to see them larger and then use side arrows to scroll through.