A Tuesday holiday from the work week will probably feel even more strange than the Wednesday July 4 holiday we just had, and if you don’t want to spend your day with the thousands of spectators gathering in downtown SLC for the Days of ’47 Parade, you’ll be glad to know there are a few worthy options for your day that don’t involve a non-stop train of pioneer-themed floats and outfits.
For my money, it’s hard to beat a rodeo for primo entertainment–you get extreme action courtesy of the cowboys doing their ropin’, ridin’ and rasslin’ various forms of livestock, and near-death experiences thanks to the bull-riding events. Beats a movie, right? The official Days of ’47 Rodeo is going down at the Maverik Center in West Valley City Tuesday at 7 p.m, and tickets start at just $10.
One of my favorite Pioneer Day diversions each year is the Native American Celebration in the Park Powwow, where Native American tribes from Utah gather at Liberty Park for an all-day festival featuring music, dance, arts and crafts from their respective cultures. The celebration runs from noon until 10 p.m., and most of it is free; there’s a $5 charge for the evening powwow.
The appeal of the This is the Place Pioneer Day Celebration can be summed up in two words: candy cannon. Yes, there are more typical pioneer-related attractions at the park, including a pie-eating contest, games and crafts for the kids, live music and train rides. But the image of a cannon blasting children with confections–that’s a holiday activity I can totally get behind. The party runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and tickets are $10
Another annual treat that comes with Pioneer Day is the free admission available at Red Butte Garden. Expect a crowd when the park opens at 10 a.m. And the Salt Lake Bees are in town, playing a home game against Sacramento, followed by fireworks that will be part of a night full of them.
What will I be doing? A house party at a friend’s place to celebrate “Pie and Beer Day,” an annual ritual for many of us Utahns who aren’t part of the dominant religion. That’s always a good option when you’re not in the mood to deal with Pioneer Day crowds–just be sure to hit the liquor store on Monday.
Dan Nailen has written about music, arts and culture in and around Salt Lake City for Salt Lake magazine, The Salt Lake Tribune and Salt Lake City Weekly since 1998. He's currently a contributor tosaltlakemagazine.com, and you can find more of his work at SLCene.com.