Pioneer Day to Mormons

This State Holiday Commemorates When the Fist Settlers Arrived in Utah

Pioneers entering Salt Lake Valley in 1847
Mormon Pioneers entering the Salt Lake Valley through Emigration Canyon 24 July 1847. Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints celebrates Pioneer Day on July 24th, the anniversary of the day when the first Mormon pioneers entered the Great Salt Lake Valley. Members of the Church were persecuted for their beliefs and mobs chased them from town to town and state to state until the prophet Brigham Young led the people on a great exodus to the west. 

The Famous Story of Brigham Young Identifying the Salt Lake Valley

Instead of following the standard trail used by settlers headed for Oregon or California, the Mormons forged their own trail.

This allowed them to avoid any conflicts with other pioneers headed west. Early pioneers prepared the trail for those who would come after them.

Under the direction of Brigham Young, Mormon pioneers arrived in the valley on July 21, 1847. Quite ill, Young viewed the valley from his sick bed/wagon three days later on July 24 and declared it to be the right place, having seen it in a vision. A monument and state park were erected at the location to commemorate Young's declaration.

The valley was uninhabited and these early pioneers had to create a civilization from the few raw materials that existed and what they brought with them. By the end of 1847, approximately 2,000 people had migrated to what would become the state of Utah.

How Pioneer Day is Celebrated by Mormons

On Pioneer Day members of the Church worldwide celebrate the great history of the pioneers by holding pageants, parades, commemoration concerts, reenactments of the trek west, and other pioneer themed church activities.

At one Pioneer Day celebration President Gordon B. Hinkley said this:

Let us remember with gratitude and reverent respect those who have gone before us, who paid so dear a price in laying the foundation for that which we enjoy this day.

Wherever LDS members exist, there is usually some acknowledgement and celebration of when Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley.

Sometimes it is only pioneer themed talks during the regular worship services on Sundays close to July 24.

Pioneer Day is a State Holiday in Utah

Referred to as the Days of '47, major and minor events occur both on and before July 24 in Utah. Traditional events include a parade, rodeo and Pioneer Day Concert.

The Concert is headlined by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and features a special annual celebrity guest singer. Celebrity guest singers in the past have included  Santino Fontana, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Laura Osnes and Nathan Pacheco. 

Since this state holiday is preceded by July 4, Independence Day, a federal holiday, there is some overlap in festivities, especially fireworks. Fireworks availability and fireworks displays in Utah are extensive preceding July 4 and continuing a few days after July 24.

Pioneers in Every Land

Although Mormons around the world commemorate Pioneer Day is some way, the extensive LDS membership worldwide caused the Church to honor all LDS pioneers everywhere.

Termed, Pioneers in Every Land, this lecture series and web site celebrate the sacrifices and efforts of LDS pioneers, regardless of where they were or are. Text and video of presentations allow all Mormons to learn about and appreciate these modern pioneers.

Challenge for Modern Pioneers

Pioneering has not ceased. However, the challenges have changed. Church leaders have encouraged current members, and especially youth, to continue with the pioneering spirit and be modern pioneers in this day and age.

Much of what is admired in the original Mormon pioneers can be exercised in current times.

Updated by Krista Cook.