ANTELOPE ISLAND -- Antelope Island State Park held its annual Pioneer Day celebration at Fielding Garr Ranch, in the southeast side of the park, on Wednesday. Ranch Curator Clay Shelley said the event has been held for the past 10 years and normally draws 400 to 500 people.
The day's festivities included weaving and spinning demonstrations by members of the Northern Utah Fiber Arts Guild, tours, gunnysack races, hoop-and-stick games, and lessons on making candles and pioneer rings.
Shelley said he feels Antelope Island's Pioneer Day is special, because guests get to see and experience some of the real history of Pioneer Day.
"We have the oldest pioneer building on its original foundation in the state of Utah that (guests) get to walk in. And they see some of these activities and actually get a feel for what Pioneer Day really is," Shelley said. "Typically at Pioneer Day you see the parades and the different things, but you can actually come out and see the history."
Northern Utah Fiber Arts Guild member Judy Gunn agrees with Clay and said the Fielding Garr Ranch's event is a welcome reprieve from more raucous Pioneer Day celebrations.
"The peaceful atmosphere here and the shade trees make it very, very pleasant. It's more like a 'pioneer day' than a pioneer celebration."
Gunn shared what she feels is a special experience for children who attend Antelope Island's Pioneer Day.
"When the kids come up and they're watching us (spin), I tell them to go out, and as they explore the ranch, if they find bison hair (and) they bring it to me, I'll spin it into yarn for them that they get to take home."
Debbie Beye, a visitor from California, said she had never heard of Pioneer Day before, but she was impressed with Antelope Island.
"All the staff are very friendly and telling us what's going on. It's neat to see a working ranch from the 1800s and how it matches in with what the church was doing."
Shelley is happy with the event's success and the attention it brings to the park.
"It brings more people out here to have activities like this. (Some have) lived here for many years and haven't been out to the island, so it gives them a chance to come out here and see what we really have for them. And we're open all year long, so they can continually come out here."