Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Vintage Vacation...Come to Steel Days!
"In the summertime when the weather is high
You can stretch right up and touch the sky
When the weather's fine
You got women, you got women on your mind
Have a drink, have a drive
Go out and see what you can find."
In your youth was there a summer song...a special anthem that so typifies summer that all you have to do is hear the first line and you flash back to the sound of kids splashing in the neighborhood pool, the scent of coconut suntan lotion and the feel of hot concrete on your bare feet? For me that song is "In the Summertime" by Mungo Jerry. Just thinking of it...I saw myself at the pool in American Fork flirting with an older boy...and almost falling for his pickup line. Not today, Romeo...I need to get home and get ready to go to the Steel Days carnival with my friends.
City of Fun Carnival...2010
Is there a small town in America that doesn't celebrate itself every summer with parades, rodeos and a carnival? Usually the celebration focuses on an industry or crop or something historical. Here in Utah County we have, for example, Strawberry Days, Lehi Round-Up, Onion Days, Pony Express Days, and the Ute Stampede. Highland...where I live...has the Highland Fling. Some of Highland's first residents were Scotts. But in my heart I have always been an American Fork girl and our days are Steel Days!
Steel Days 2014 is going on now!
American Fork's celebration has evolved over the years. In pioneer times it was Timber Day, an all-day picnic held in a grove of trees near town, known as "The Timbers." Eating and horseshoes competition, along with ball games and foot races were the main activities. This tradition continued from 1865 until about 1904.
Parade entry for Tennessee.
Liberty Day was a patriotic July celebration held either July 4 or July 24, which is Pioneer Day...or Days of '47... in Utah. The dates alternated to please both the patriots and the pioneers. This began in 1905. The biggest addition to the celebration was the grand parade. Whether in horse-drawn wagons or decorated automobiles, parade participants moved very slowly over American Fork's gravel paved Main Street. The parade of 1925 honored the various states of the Union. A Goddess of Liberty was crowned to reign over the festivities.
Poultry Day Parade...
Poultry Day began July 1927. American Fork raised a lot of chickens in those days. The day began with a Sunrise Salute of cannon fire. A free lunch of over 10,000 chicken sandwiches were passed out...our trademark product. Pleasant Grove served strawberries and cream to their townspeople. The first Poultry Day Queen was Miss Mary Pulley...one of American Fork's most beloved citizens. The last Poultry Day was July 1941; then Pearl Harbor was attacked. There would be no more city celebrations until 1945.
Steel Days...at last!
A Nicely Dressed Family at Steel Days!
By 1945, the mayor of American Fork decided that Poultry Day no longer reflected the economy of our town. World War II brought a lot of change to the area with the construction of the Columbia Steel mill...the largest employer in Utah Valley. So Steel Days it would be!
I have many fond memories of Steel Days... but my very first memory is of leaving the carnival with my very own pretty balloon and watching it slip from my little four-year-old fingers. I remember crying as I watched it fly away growing smaller and smaller until I could no longer see it. That was the summer of 1959. Would you like to take a Vintage Vacation trip back in time to Steel Days circa 1959? Find a spot for your folding chair and wait for the parade to begin.
Note: Photos are courtesy of Don Hansen from his grandfather Joe Hoglund. These pictures are a mix from 1955, 1958 and 1959.
Steel Days Parade and Carnival 1959...
Blurry...but every parade has to start with the Color Guard
The background looks like a 50's classic car show.
American Fork High School Marching Band
I was in this band in 1971.
Miss American Fork
As a child my goal was to be Miss American Fork of 1973...just to ride on the float in a pretty dress and wave a princess wave.
Many floats were religious in theme.
Still 10 years from walking on the moon.
A Cornucopia of Blessings...or Prosperity I guess.
Devey's was an upscale shop owned by a distant relative.
My second choice float to ride on in a pretty dress.
Ship of Dreams.
The Cold War...or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb.
Just a couple of years before our air raid drills.
LDS Wards had food stand fund-raisers.
The Giant Ferris Wheel!
Scary Clown Ride...yikes!
The Big Show!
The climax of Steel Days is the Big Show and Fireworks. These days American Fork is able to attract major country and pop stars. I don't know exactly when the Big Show started, but in 1962, my relative who owned Devey's...C. Richard Devey...was the Steel Days chairman. The head of the entertainment committee approached him and asked if he could have $60 from the fund to hire a group of young kids from Ogden to perform for the evening. The group was....
Osmonds in 1962...Andy Williams show.
...the Osmonds, with cute little Donny as well. This was before their appearance on the Andy Williams Show in December. I saw them perform at the Utah State Fair when I was in the fourth grade on a field trip. They were singing barbershop music which I thought was pretty lame. After all...who could compete with the Beatles?
One Last Parade Picture....
American Fork High School Marching Band 1971.
I am somewhere on the left in front of the drummers.
We played in every local parade all summer...it was a blast!
Happy Steel Days!