Friday, August 29, 2014

The Roots of ‘Peach Days,’ ‘Tomato Days’

                         The Brigham City LDS Temple.

“PEACH Days,” the premier annual celebration by Brigham City, is set for Sept. 3-6 this year (2014).The first Peach Days event was held in 1904,to celebrate "an abundance of the best peaches in Utah."“Peach Day crowds at Brigham” was a Sept. 20, 1911 headline in the Ogden Standard-Examiner. By then, the event had hit its stride, when some 400 people boarded the Oregon Short Line Train at Ogden to travel to Brigham City for the festivities. In all, some 1,500 people were riding the rails from the south to Box Elder County’s largest city.Events held for the two-day event back in 1911 (Wednesday-Thursday timeline) included: a parade, balloon ascension, a baseball game, wrestling match, musical concert, moving pictures exhibition, dancing and horticultural judging.A highlight of the festivities were free peaches and other fruit – available in abundance – to visitors at the city park and various stores in town.By 1912, Peach Days had welcomed the automobile age and many Weber County visitors traveled north by car. However, there were also at least five traffic accidents reported en route to Peach Days, between Brigham City and Ogden.According to the Standard of Sept. 18, 1913, at least 10,000 people attended Peach Days.“A delegation of Commercial Club members met the first train at the station and escorted the visitors to the city park,” the Standard reported of the celebration 101 years ago. “Huge piles of luscious peaches, with a score of pretty girls to serve them, awaited the visitors.”300 barrels of free peaches were given out that year. Besides baseball games in 1913, there were also various horse races. Festivities ended with a dance.

-Switching to another historical celebration:Hooper City’s annual Farm Bureau Day/Tomato Days, dates back to 1926.About 2,000 people were reported to have attended the premiere event, 88 years ago.George Parker headed the committee to organize the first celebration, which included a lecture on feeding beef and dairy cattle, chariot races and other pulling and riding competitions.A free melon bust was also featured and “Visit Hooper on Labor Day” was the slogan organizers wanted the public to remember. Team pulling contests and horseshoe pitching competitions highlighted events at Hooper on Sept. 5, 1927, in its second annual celebrationCecil Newey, Robert Purdy and John Wilson, some of Utah’s best horseshoe pitchers, gave a demonstration of their skill at the event.Horse races, foot races, a tug-of-war, dance and various agricultural judging were other events held.(“Tomato Days” this year is Saturday, Aug. 30 and Monday, Sept. 1, with a rodeo, farmers market, 5K run/walk, parade, craft fair and more.)

-Also, earlier in 1926, the Hooper Farm Bureau had staged a very unusual “Mock Wedding Party Feature,” according to a headline in the Standard of Feb. 26 that year.A mock marriage between “Joshua Farmer” (played by Mrs. Dale Russell) and “Madelda Farm Bureau” (portrayed by Les Stoddard) was the highlight of the banquet/dance, attended by 75 couples.John Belnap impersonated a minister, with a wedding march after the “ceremony.”James K. Widdison was the toastmaster of the evening and old time dances followed the banquet.

                The center of Hooper today, looking north along 5900 West.

(-Originally published by Lynn Arave on August 29, 2014 in the Ogden Standard-Examiner.)

-NOTE: The author, Lynn Arave, is available to speak to groups, clubs, classes or other organizations about Utah history at no charge. He can be contacted by email at:  

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