Dancing down the street, local youth performed basic country dances of the pioneer era during the Pioneer Days parade in 2018.

A Gila Valley tradition for more than 100 years is returning this summer after two years off because of the pandemic.

“Pioneer Days” celebrates the arrival on July 24, 1847, of Brigham Young and other pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley. They traveled 1,200 miles from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Salt Lake area in covered wagons, on foot and pulling handcarts. Many of the early settlers of the Gila Valley were part of those who crossed the plains in those early years.

The celebration is July 22-23, headed up by the Thatcher Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is open to all residents, and faiths, in the Gila Valley.

The festivities will include a variety show, rodeo, 5k family run, co-ed volleyball and 3-on-3 basketball tournaments, parade, BBQ, games for children and fireworks. New this year: a pickleball tournament.

“The celebration began many many years ago when the pioneers came out to places like Utah and Idaho,” said Mel Palmer of the Thatcher Stake. “Here in the Gila Valley, it has been a tradition and my wife and I are in charge this year.”

Load comments