Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Vintage Vacation...Come to Steel Days!

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."
Mungo Jerry

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.

 Liberty Day...
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
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 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 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 Float.
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.

Carnival Time
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 was a blast!

Happy Steel Days!
Note:  I found a lot of information about Steel Days in "American Fork City...The Growing Years" by Betty G. Spencer.


Sandy McClay said...

This was SO fun! I just loved going to Steel Days! Thank you for this post!

Linda said...

Thanks for the fun trip back in time and for the history. The small town carnivals and special 'days' were always so much fun!!!

Dan and LaVon said...

That was a great post. My mom and I were talking today about the years it was called poultry day and the free chicken sandwiches. Thanks!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

What a fun post! It sure brings back memories of the fair and parades when I was a kid. My Daddy was a fireman and I got to ride in the firetruck a couple of times. I'll never forget! Thanks for the memories! Hugs, Diane

Tammy's in Love said...

Here in our town we have Pan o' Prog which is short for Panorama of Progress! Loved the 50's photos and the red 57 Chevy pulling the float!

vintage grey said...

A fun post and I have always loved seeing photos of these sweet summer times in small towns! Being in a big city growing up, we didn't have this. So wonderful it must have been and hopefully they are some that are still going! Have a great week! xo Heather

Margaret said...

Oh how great! What terrific memories! Maggie

~Damita's Pretty Wrap~ said...

A lovely post and so fun too! Such wonderful memories! Love seeing those old photos! Have a lovely and crafty week! xo Holly

Holly- Cutie Pie Cottage said...

Fun post!

For me it's Summer Breeze! by Seals and Croft but the Mungo Jerry tune works, too. :) So many songs that remind me of summertime youth!

I went to the fair every day- all day when it was on! Swimming, camping and the fair- that was summer to me! ♥

Pollyanna said...

Such a fun post ... I was driving through AF the other day and noticed the steel days banner ... and wondered about it. So fun, now I know ... We celebrate Onion Days here in Payson.

Sarah said...

Wow! Those floats were amazing! I would LOVE to go on that vintage vacation!!! Such wonderful history and how neat that you got to take part in it over the years. Thanks for sharing!

Patti said...

Oh, I love this post! Takes me back to my small town days of Summer, too. I twirled the baton in our parades in front of the band, and rode on a few floats, too. I remember sitting on top of a car hoping I wouldn't slide off. I was a Homecoming princess. What a treat that was! Your photos were wonderful!

Musings from Kim K. said...

Love this post and all the fantastic memories and pictures. My small hometown celebrates Danish Festival in August. It's changed so much over the years, but you took me down memory lane thinking about the parades, the floats, the food, the arts/crafts. Thank you!

vivian said...

loved your post. we have a huge forth of july celebration in our town.. but as parades go, ours is not what they used to be. hardly any floats and certainly not what floats used to be. sort of sad..
anyways.. Loved reading this.. and now.. hi ho hi ho.. off to work I go.
happy weekend!!


Good "olde" fashion fun! I LOVE parades!
Happy weekend!

Katie Gauger said...

I just love your blog, posts, pictures, memories, incites, and overall vintage look and feel! So much fun to visit it!