Ah Utah. The story of Utah's founding beats out any state in the Union (except maybe Texas and those 13 original ones). We've got a Biblical-style Exodus tale, war with the Federal Government, occupation, polygamy, covered wagons and handcarts. Way better than all the other western states that follow the usual "we found (gold, copper, minerals, lumber) and went and got it" plot line. And once a year, two weeks after we celebrate Independence Day, we shove that tired old holiday aside with our own celebration of a State unlike any other. It may look and feel like the Fourth of July but it's not. It's the 24th of July, the Days of 1847, when Utah was Deseret and statehood was far, far away.

PRE-P-DAY PARTIES:

[caption id="attachment_1576" align="alignnone" width="461" caption="Handcart Days in Bountiful"][/caption]

Up in Bountiful the name of the celebration is Handcart Days, which gets things started Parade-wise with an evening event down Main Street on Friday. Parade starts and 6 p.m. and then everything ends up in the city park, where there's games and food, and warm flat sodas sold by the local wards. (I used to sell warm flat soda at this parade, so I'm not kidding.)

[caption id="attachment_1577" align="alignnone" width="450" caption="Brigham's Ball at This is the Place Heritage Park"][/caption]

For something more, say, authentic and Frontiery, check out Brother Brigham's Ball at This is the Place Heritage Park. Brigham Young threw many such gala events in his day (Briggy loved to Boogie) and the Ball is a revival of the tradition, featuring a brass band, dance instruction, poetry reading (huh?) and more. Bonus: The ball is held in one of Brigham Young's actual homes at the park. So you've got that going for you. Come dressed in period clothing if you want to really fit in (this may be mandatory). The ball starts at 7 p.m. Friday night. For more info, tickets etc. click here.

In fact, This is the Place, is really the place to get your Pioneer Day history on. They've got a full slate of P-Day events and activities including a pie eating contest. Check it out here.

[caption id="attachment_1579" align="alignnone" width="480" caption="Days of 47 Parade (it's a hot one)."]