Pioneer Day became an official Utah holiday in 1857 to commemorate Mormon pioneers’ passage through Emigration Canyon into the Salt Lake Valley.
In Moab, the July 24 holiday is celebrated with a Pioneer Day Ice Cream Social outside the Museum of Moab, 118 E. Center St., from 7 to 9 p.m.
A conical tent will also be set up this Sunday on the lawn, and visitors can go inside it to see how American Indians used to live, museum docent Barbara Jackson said.
“We’re celebrating the day when the pioneers got to where they wanted to be,” Jackson said. “Where (Mormon leader) Brigham Young said, ‘This is the place.’”
This year’s ice cream offerings from Crystal’s Cakes and Cones will include chocolate and vanilla flavors, plus novelties like Popsicles and ice cream sandwiches, said Crystal’s owner Crystal Alvarez.
In addition to free ice cream from Crystal’s, there will be “lots of games,” Jackson said.
The festive event includes live music from Millcreek Station.
The band is comprised of Grand County Council vice chair Jaylyn Hawks, who plays bass; Utah State University-Moab Dean Steve Hawks on percussion; and business owner James Grantham playing lead guitar. Grand County School Superintendent Scott Crane is also in the band, but will be out of town for this performance.
“We play a little original material, but mostly covers – an eclectic mix of old and new,” Jaylyn Hawks said.
The museum normally closes at 6 p.m., but it will be open during the ice cream social to allow visitors to learn about Moab pioneers who settled in the town during the mid-1870s.
Unclaimed grazing lands and the promise of farming opportunities brought settlers to the region. Early explorers traveled through Moab for decades as they headed west looking for gold and silver.
“We have a little bit of everything – from dinosaurs, to geology, mining history, uranium, moviemaking – a lot of movies were made here,” said a museum receptionist who declined to be identified.
The museum is also currently showing the works of three local artists: Dell Crandell, Nick Eason and Karen Chatham.
History buffs may also want to visit the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, who will host an open house on Friday, July 22, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at 45 N. 200 East, just behind Star Hall. The Daughters house various artifacts and historical photos. The DUP offers tours every Friday from 6 to 7:30 p.m., as well as by appointment.
The Daughters group is comprised of residents whose ancestors were among those who settled in Utah. The local chapter meets during the winter on Wednesdays at 2 p.m., said member Helen Tranter.
“Usually, we have a lesson or someone shares a story about a personal history,” she said. “It’s very enlightening.”
For example, a prior presentation was about the unique musical instruments that pioneers brought across the Great Plains, from New York, and Europe, Tranter said.
Museum hosts free ice cream social on July 24
“We’re celebrating the day when the pioneers got to where they wanted to be … Where Brigham Young said, ‘This is the place.’”
When: Sunday, July 24, from 7 to 9 p.m.
Where: Museum of Moab, 118 E. Center St.
For more information about the ice cream social, call 435-259-7985