MANASSA — Thousands of people lined Main Street for the annual Pioneer Days Parade on Friday, July 16, after cancellation last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Masks were not required, neither was social distancing. Many people saw the start of the three-day celebration, July 15-17, as a return to normal after over a year of being careful.
Several people were heard commenting that "it was so nice to be able to see people's smiles."
The Friday morning parade boasted the essentials that have marked Pioneer Days for more than a century now, including horses, cowgirls, and floats galore. As is tradition a second parade was held Saturday morning.
A giant American flag was draped above Main Street by two local fire department ladder trucks near Manassa Town Hall.
Elizabeth Anderson was the Parade Grand Marshal. She smiled and waved from the front seat of a classic pink and white Ford Crown Victoria from the 1950s.
She was followed by the Pioneer Days royalty float. Front-and-center on the float wearing a shimmering red dress was 2021 Miss Pioneer Princess Taylor Robinson, who is the daughter of Travis and Janna Robinson. She was joined by her attendants — Abby Sowards, daughter of Bart and Nanette Sowards; Kailyn Vigil, daughter of Connie and Patrick Vigil; Emery Mortensen, daughter of Melissa Cary and Kent and Elissa Mortensen; and Tatelyn Price, daughter of Andy and Cynthia Price.
The Pioneer Days grand marshal and royalty were honored during a kickoff banquet at the Opera House on Thursday, July 15.
The parade had 53 entries on Friday, including a record number of floats, according to parade official Cami Sowards. And swelled to over 60 entries as more were available to participate on Saturday.
"We had such great response from people," Cami Sowards said. "People are just hungry to go outside and do stuff."
There were several intricate and colorful floats that made it difficult for the judges when it came to handing out awards. But in the end, the Martin Cattle Company float "Just 'Dragon' Along," featuring a massive red dragon, with a purple chest and underbelly and rainbow-colored wings and three baby dragons in tow took home the Sweepstakes Award.
The dragon float was supposed to be in the 2020 parade but due to the pandemic went into hibernation for a year. Ramona Martin designed the float with a lot of help from her family.
“It’s become a family tradition,” Martin said.
It is a months-long process that includes using chicken wire for the basic shape followed by Papier-mâché.
Martin has been designing floats locally for the past 40 years and has a list of projects that she draws from for each year’s design.
“It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do,” Martin said of the dragon float. “I have a bucket list of floats. It’s fun. I always wanted to do a multi-colored one.”
Martin said she loves building the floats. She has done floats for other businesses over the years in addition to the yearly Martin Cattle Company entry.
“I love it, I love it,” Martin said. “I’m always glad when it’s done, but I just love doing it — this creative need, I guess.”
Martin does not ride with the finished float in the parade. Instead, she joins the large crowd lined along Main Street and watches the parade. She would rather have kids ride on the float.
“It’s designed for them,” Martin said. “We always have costumes. It’s fun making the costumes for them. They have a lot of fun.”
After the parade, people made their way to the Hamburger Stand for a bite to eat and sat on the grass in the shade of the trees on the sizable lawn of the Church of Christ of Latter-day Saints. Nearby, live music was performed on the stage at Jack Dempsey Park. The carnival area near the LDS Church was busy throughout the afternoon. The day also featured a rodeo at the fairgrounds at 6 p.m. followed by a concert and dance at 8:30 p.m.
Saturday was another busy day with a 5K run. The carnival went from 10 a.m. to midnight with live music at Dempsey Park from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The rodeo was held in the afternoon.
The roaring, crashing fan-favorite demolition derby rolled out at 6 p.m., followed at 9 p.m. by the lighting of the mountain.
Pioneer Days Parade Winners
Sweepstakes — Martin Cattle Company — Just "Dragon" Along
1st Place — Buhr Trucking — Rock and Roar
2nd Place — Manassa Market — One Flag, One Nation
3rd Place — Smith-Rogers Family — Tell Me 'bout the Good Old Days
1st Place-Hoover Family — Cuckoo For You
2nd Place — Como se Llama
3rd Place — Life Can be Prickly, Bloom Anyway
4th Place — Heaven Wasn't So Far Away
5th Place — First Responders