WASHINGTON CITY – Despite the brisk and rainy weather, the celebration of Washington City’s heritage, Cotton Days, paraded onward on Saturday.
At 7 a.m. 40 runners showed up in the rain to run “The Puff,” the Cotton Days 5K. Even though the rain tried to interfere with the scheduled events, the city worked around the weather to ensure Cotton Days continued its big kick-off day.
The parade is considered the opening ceremony for the two-week-long celebration. The route began on Telegraph and ended near Veterans Park where the Cotton Fest was held. The beginning of the parade was signaled by a police officer driving in front of the Marine Corps League, Utah Dixie Detachment No. 1270 carrying the United State’s flag.
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Videocast by Samantha Tommer, St. George News
Parade floats included many St. George and Washington City area organizations including the Washington City Youth Council whose truck ran out of gas and had to be pushed for the remainder of the parade route.
The end of the parade featured antique tractors which was a favorite among those who attended.
When asked what her favorite part of the parade was, Donna Dixon said excitedly: “The tractors, the tractors. I got pictures of every single one of them.”
The Cotton Fest included vendor booths, games for kids, inflatable slides, entertainment, and the honoring of those who won the Spirit of Dixie Awards. The tractor pull was scheduled for 11 a.m. but was postponed due to muddy conditions where the tractor pull was to be held. Rain hasn’t interfered with Cotton Days for at least 20 years until today.
“It is kind of the city celebration of when the pioneers came down here to grow cotton in the cotton mission,” Cotton Days Chairman Mike Jensen said. “Brigham Young wanted them to be self-sufficient.”
According to the Washington City website, multiple pioneers left northern Utah, Mississippi, Alabama, Virginia, Texas, Tennessee, and the Carolinas to establish a new life in Southern Utah. Brigham Young asked various families to grow cotton so they could gain independence because he foresaw the conflicts that were about to begin between the North and South.
The first group of pioneers arrived in Washington in April of 1857 and others followed in May that same year.
Despite malaria, death, starvation, and flooding, the first cotton factory was built in 1865 and developed cotton into material for clothing. Today, the original cotton factory still stands at 385 West Telegraph repurposed as Star Nursery.
Cotton Days is an annual event to remember what the pioneers had to accomplish in order to survive in Southern Utah and for it to flourish the way it has since. Cotton Days events will be held until May 9 come rain or shine.
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