2012 Miss Provo Kaiti Purse and Provo Mayor John Curtis judge a pie contest at the 2012 Provo Pioneer Day Extravaganza. Photo courtesy of Provo City.

If you're new to Utah or just visiting, don't be surprised if you see little pioneer children running around in bonnets and suspenders on July 24.

Utahns celebrate Pioneer Day to honor those who made their way to Utah during the pioneer era—particularly Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers who came into Salt Lake Valley with wagons and handcarts in 1847. If you don't have the urge to pull a handcart at Bountiful Handcart Days or fight the crowds at the Days of '47 rodeo and parade in Salt Lake, don't fret; you can still have a good time down in Utah Valley. 

Start your day off early and hit the ground running. Run the Spanish Fork 10K road race or Speedy Spaniard Mile, Mapleton's 5K run or one-mile fun run, or the Temple to Temple Run—from the Provo Temple to the City Center Temple site. For a second chance to meet your goal time, run the Pioneer Day Classic 10K/5K in Provo on Saturday, July 27. If you're feeling adventurous, participate in the first Pioneer Day Raft and Run where you'll raft down the Provo River and then run to the finish. Proceeds help single mothers attend college through the Live Your Dream Scholarship program. 

Refuel after your race at the Spanish Fork Fiesta Days pancake breakfast, or enjoy breakfast in Mapleton provided by Copper Grill (7–10 a.m., cash only). Both cities will have barbecue and concessions—at the park in Spanish Fork from 6:30 p.m. until the fireworks, at Mapleton City Park for lunch (cash only again), and at Mapleton's Ira Allan Park for dinner.

Keep the kiddies busy and entertained all day starting with the parade in Mapleton (9 a.m., starting at Mapleton Jr. High). After the parade until 2 p.m., City Park will have games, blow-ups, a rock-climbing wall, and crafts—as well as cotton candy and snow cones if you don't mind sticky kids. Move your festivities over to Ira Allan Park for dinner and the ping-pong ball drop before the fireworks. In Spanish Fork, children can play at the carnival and in the water park (1–6 p.m., discounted) and then enjoy the rodeo (8 p.m., get tickets early!). Or check out Provo's family-friendly Pioneer Day Extravaganza—including local folk bands, a log-saw competition, and covered wagon rides (North Park, 10 a.m–2 p.m.).


Performance at the 2012 Provo Pioneer Day Extravagazna, photo courtesy of Provo City. 

Revel in the history of the day. Head to Provo's North Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and explore its pioneer village and museum, Native American village and mountain man encampment. Check out the antique car show and farmer's market dressed in your pioneer best, and you could win a prize for your costume.

End your day with a bang by enjoying impressive fireworks. If you find yourself in Spanish Fork, head to Sports Park to watch the Fireworks Spectacular—the Fiesta Days finale. Finalists from Spanish Fork's Got Talent and a DJ will keep you entertained while you wait for the pyrotechnics to begin around 10:30 p.m. If you're over in Mapleton, listen to the band play for a couple hours at Ira Allan Park. Then around 10 p.m., watch “Fireworks in the Park”—a display rumored to rival the Stadium of Fire's show.

For more information, visit mapleton.org, spanishfork.org, provo.org and provomayor.com.