Mormon pioneers first arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847.
Mormon pioneers first arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often called the Mormon church, celebrates Pioneer Day on July 24 each year. It was on this date, in 1847, according to the LDS church, that "the first group of Mormon pioneers" arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. Often on this date there are ward, or congregation, activities for church members young and old.

Stick Pulling

The Prophet Joseph Smith excelled at stick pulling. This activity is for two people and would work best if both people are approximately the same size. Several groups of two could participate at the same time. The two participants should sit on the ground facing each other. Each person's feet should be against his opponent's feet. Each person holds on to a thick wooden stick, such as a broom stick. When the start signal is given, each person tries to pull the other person off the ground by pulling on the stick. The winner is the person who pulls his opponent off the ground or who maintains a hold on the stick when his opponent loses his grip on it.

Laundry relay

Pioneers did not have washing machines or clothes dryers. They had to wash all of their laundry by hand. Divide the participants into teams of equal numbers, and have a laundry relay race. Have a washtub with water in it, a t-shirt and some clothespins for each team. Have a clothesline strung between trees or poles, and put the other supplies along the clothesline area for each team. The first person runs to the washtub and dunks the t-shirt all the way into the water, then wrings it out and hangs it on the clothesline with the clothespins. She then races back and tags her next team member. That person then runs to the t-shirt, takes it off the clothesline, dunks it all the way into the water, wrings it out and hangs it on the clothesline. When the final member tags the team member who went first, the game is over. The team that finishes first wins.

Contests

The pioneers did not have many toys, so their activities were simple. Have a three-legged race: groups of two people stand side by side and their inside legs are fastened together with string or rope, then everyone races from the starting line to the finish line. Have a wheelbarrow race: groups of two people race with one person "walking" on their hands while his partner holds his legs off the ground. Play tug-of-war: teams hold their end of a long rope, and each team tries to pull the other across a line in the middle.

Dancing

The pioneers often danced to fiddle music. Have a pioneer dance, and learn some old favorites, like the Virginia Reel. Bring recordings of music from the 1800s or ask a violinist to play some popular songs from that time period.