Part 3: Nephi’s Ute Stampede

In this 1936-ute-stampede-mtg1last post about celebrations in Nephi, you will see the beginnings of the annual rodeo that is held in that city to this day.  I don’t know where the name came from, but here is the first article I found that calls it the “Ute Stampede.”  This first meeting in 1936 was held in February to gauge interest in holding another rodeo in their city later that year.  Enough interest was shown that they held a second and a third meeting to set the course for another successful celebration!  They determined that this celebration would be even bigger and better than the Blackhawk Encampment from the previous year and they bumped the dates forward to mid-July; however, you will read that they called it their 2nd annual Ute Stampede.

Many components of their previous celebrations were preserved such as: competition of bands, rodeo contract with Colborn & Sorensen, carnival contract with Monte Young, and voting for a “queen.”  Again, they appointed committees to carry out the various activities and this year they even selected a “slogan” that encouraged all to wear western clothing and return to the times of the Wild West.  In a few short months, they had a program and all was made ready for the big event.  As their organization developed, they selected Preston L. Jones as chairman for the Ute Stampede.  He had chaired the celebration the year before and was one of the main drivers influencing the city to invite the Blackhawk Encampment to Nephi.

All their efforts paid off as they held an even bigger celebration than the year before, despite some challenges with rain.  (Because of the rain on Saturday that they feared may decrease attendance, the committee had hurriedly made a decision to add one more evening for the rodeo on Sunday.)

Unfortunately the newspaper from the week of the rodeo was missing, so I don’t know if the queen was LuDean Wade or Rosemary Belliston!  However, this later article mentions the visit of Utah Governor Blood to the rodeo and his commendations to the Nephi citizens as well as the results of the baseball games, boxing matches and band competition.  Within a few weeks many businesses and citizens had pledged their support for another rodeo in 1937 (and declared that holding the rodeo on a Sunday night was not an option).

1937-ute-stampede-3These were exciting times for Nephi!  I had to hold my own excitement in check as I hurriedly scrolled through the next few months in the newspaper.  Sure enough, even earlier in 1937 the city had elected a corporation consisting of nine directors to “put on” the Ute Stampede.  They joined the Rodeo Association of America and locked in Colborn & Sorensen Rodeo Co. for future events;  later (1956) Cotton Rosser would buy out that company to form The Flying U Rodeo Company.

At right is an article listing preparations for the 3rd annual Ute Stampede to be held in 1937.  If this is true, then those pioneer citizens of Nephi counted the Blackhawk Encampment held in 1935 as their 1st annual rodeo.  This means that the most recent Ute Stampede (held in July 2016) was the 82nd rodeo to be held in Nephi, Utah.

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Part 2: Nephi’s Blackhawk Encampment

If you read my last post you’ll know that Nephi was thrilled to be selected for the Blackhawk Encampment!!  The celebration dates were set for the second week in August 1935 (which means they had only 4 months to get ready).  And, they almost immediately received a telegram from Colborn & Sorensen to consider holding a rodeo for the celebration.  During the next several weeks a central committee and other sub-committees were put together.  Then, they got serious about a rodeo!

In the meantime, they were busy making plans and sending postcard invitations to family from out-of-town.  As I scrolled through the weekly newspapers, I noticed many articles about the need to clean up yards!  They held their annual 4th of July celebration which seemed almost an afterthought as they focused on the Blackhawk Encampment.  Front page news on the 4th of July was the voting procedures for their Blackhawk Queen.  The top vote-getter would be the queen, 2nd place Miss Nephi, 3rd place Goddess of Liberty, 4th and 5th place would be attendants to the queen.  Talk about an over-the-top celebration!

By the second week in July, they had decided yes to the rodeo!  They were almost ready for the celebration scheduled in just four weeks.  Their program featured many things that they had previously incorporated in other celebrations, including a mammoth pageant highlighting the first settlers in Nephi and a mammoth parade with participation from surrounding cities as well as baseball games, boxing matches, horse-racing, dancing, their annual hike up Mt. Nebo and of course, the rodeo!  Even the Governor of the State of Utah, Henry H. Blood, was there.  The town was finally ready and the Queen, Florence Chapman, had been selected.

-1935-

1935 Blackhawk Ad

Part 1: Nephi’s Pioneer Day

1934 Pioneer DayThe inhabitants of Nephi had a strong Pioneer heritage.  Every year on July 24th they celebrated the settlers of Nephi.  I cannot do justice to the intensity of their celebrations!  So, check out this 1933 Pioneer Day article, which describes in detail the entries for their parade.  These celebrations were typically sponsored by the MIA and supported by the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.  Nephi took their celebrations seriously.  At left is an invitational article for the celebration that was held in 1934.  The activities appeared to increase every year including baseball, boxing and dancing.  I loved reading the follow-up article listing the winners of the “whiskers” contest among other awards.  My GG-Grandfather, Thomas Bowles’s family won first place among the “handcart” floats!

1934 Blackhawk -charter night (page)The great success of the 1934 Pioneer Day resulted in an immediate desire to hold an even bigger celebration the following year and a committee was formed to invite the Blackhawk Encampment to Nephi for 1935.  (Pioneer veterans had been holding reunions, which came to be known as “Blackhawk Encampments” named after the Black Hawk War.)  Preston L. Jones was selected as President of the Nephi post of the Sons and Daughters of Pioneers and Indian Wars Veterans.  They learned they needed to increase their membership in the group and a couple of drives were held.  Then, a banquet was planned and held (in December 1934) to show off their more than 300 members, making them the largest post in the State of Utah at that time!

The work to attract the Blackhawk Encampment to their town was often headline news (example at right, above) and there were weekly articles detailing all their efforts.  Finally, in February 1935, 40 citizens showed up in Springville along with President P.L. Jones to convince the directors to hold the Blackhawk Encampment in Nephi.   Although up against Cedar City… Nephi was selected for the annual encampment!!

1935 Blackhawk -Nephi selected

 

I was a Pioneer, once

Pioneer Trek Pix1a

For one week, during the summer of 1980, I had a very small glimpse of what it means to be a Pioneer.  We pulled handcarts a total of about 12-miles through the canyon near Springville during that week, with most of the travel occuring on the first day and late into that night.  At one point, we stopped and prayed for a good place to camp.  Some people were crying and we were all very sleepy and worn out.  I remember sitting there with my friend and I asked her if she could stand up and dance… then I did it.  Even with blisters on my feet, I felt that I could still find enough energy in my spirit to overcome the physical exhaustion.  I guess I had to prove it to myself.

The next morning we pushed our carts another mile and then camped there for the rest of the week.  We cooked and cleaned and played and danced.  We had the opportunity to wash our hair in a very cold spigot one day, and then danced up a dust storm that night.  This news article gives a good outline of our itinerary.  It mentions that I was the only one to hit the target with a shot gun.  I was just very lucky!  The target was an older watch attached to a tree.  I aimed… then closed my eyes… and pulled the trigger.  The “leader” (from BYU) was shocked that I had hit it.  Then, he gave me the metal ring around the watch because that is what I hit.

Pioneer Trek Pix2a
This pioneering experience was 35-years ago and before “trekking” had become as popular as it seems to be now.  The most important thing I learned was something about myself… that I could, if I would, tap into a source of inner strength to get me through tough times.  I think the source of that kind of strength is the Light of Christ.  I want to have that kind of inner strength to help myself and others.  My great-grandmothers had that type of strength.  As mothers, they traveled with their families to ‘Zion’ with the Willie & Martin Handcart companies.  My heart is turning to my Pioneer ancestors… See Malachi 4:6

Tribute to Jane Haynes James

Tribute to Mary Penfold Goble

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