I, for one, am glad that Utah has its very own holiday – Pioneer Day! It’s coming right up on the 24th of July. The 24th is on Saturday this year. So, county and state offices will be closed on Friday. That’s when most celebrations will be held including the big parade in Salt Lake.

Celebrating Utah’s pioneers is a worthy reason for getting together and enjoying a special day. In 1847, as he came down Emigration Canyon overlooking the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham Young said, “This is the right place.”

In 1849, Brigham decided that Sanpete was “a right place” as well. The Sanpete settlers are sometimes called “the other Forty-Niners.” That’s not a reference to the San Francisco NFL football team, but rather, to their name sakes, the gold seekers who rushed to California in 1849.

Interestingly enough, gold was discovered in California by James Marshall at John Sutter’s mill on the American River. That was in January of 1848. It wasn’t until after President Polk’s state of the union address in December, which referred to the gold strikes, that the “rush” really got going.

Of course, it wasn’t gold that motivated Sanpete’s pioneers to settle here. It was the desire to get out of Salt Lake City with all the annoying horse and buggy traffic and city hubbub. They heard that there was land in a place called Sanpete where they could raise turkeys in peace and quiet – or something like that.

Actually, it’s my understanding that the Native Americans asked Brigham Young to send settlers here. (Be careful of what you ask for, is the lesson to be learned from that deal, I guess.)

The Indians figured that they could learn something from the new “move-ins” that would be beneficial to them. The two groups cooperated for a while; but there were problems. Significant problems were the Walker War and the Blackhawk War.

Our Sanpete pioneers eventually made this place “blossom as a rose” and we are now the Sanpete recipients of their foresight and hard work. I’m glad that I’m not clearing sagebrush and digging canals. I complain about trying to “clear weeds” and attempting to keep a little garden alive. In our drought this year, I’ve about given up. I’d be a pretty wimpy pioneer.

Every once in a while, we like to go to Salt Lake for the huge parade and the “Days of 47” festivities in the big city. It’s fun, but it’s a tough job to get parked and find a place to watch the parade.

It’s easier in Sanpete. There’s plenty to do here on Pioneer Day in several different communities. Fairview does a big celebration. Several other communities host great events, including Spring City, Sterling, Mayfield and Centerfield.

I like going to parades in Sanpete. We know how to throw candy to the spectators here. That doesn’t happen in Salt Lake.

At parades, I always find myself thinking, “I don’t think I ought to eat any more salt-water taffy.” Like most kids, I don’t seem to know when to stop when it comes to sugar consumption.

A few years ago, Pioneer Day was a good day for us to visit the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers museum in Spring City. I remember hearing Orson Hyde stories from a lady in that museum. That L.D.S. church apostle had an interesting life as a leader in the early days of the church.

I gather that he had several wives and thirty-two children. It seems like that alone would make life “interesting.” He “ended up” in Spring City and is buried there.

If the museum is open this week, I recommend you stop in and say hello. They let me pull the long rope and ring the bell that used to be the signal for the volunteer firemen to come running. It’s a fun thing to do. (Use the “promo code:” “You Let Merrill Do It.”)

I think that pioneers like Brigham Young and Orson Hyde would be pleased that we remember them with a holiday created for their generation’s honor. Thanks to all the Sanpeters who work so hard to make the holiday celebrations fun and relaxing for the rest of us. Enjoy Pioneer Day!

---Merrill

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