Utah governor back in the saddle to kick off Days of ’47 events

Cattle will be herded west across the North Temple Bridge in Salt Lake City on their way to Utah State Fair Park to begin the Days of ’47 activities on Monday, July 19, 2021. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah’s governor saddled up Monday to celebrate the state’s pioneering heritage and helped drive cattle not over mountain passes or meadows, but under downtown Salt Lake City traffic lights.

Governor Spencer Cox and First Lady Abby Cox, who both grew up riding horses in rural Sanpete County, turned down seats in a cart for the event, which celebrated the return of the celebrations of the days of 47 years that were canceled during the pandemic last year were.

“This is about the history and legacy of our state,” Cox said later in the rodeo arena at the Utah State Fair Park as the oxen ran around behind him. “It’s still a really important way of life for the people of rural Utah, and this is the only opportunity we have each year for all of Utah to come together and celebrate this Western heritage that is ours.”

The couple chose to ride Quarter Horses named Sitter and Sunday instead, and chatted as they hooked up with cowboys to take eight Texas Longhorns for a slow mile through Utah’s capital city before hitting the state’s fairgrounds at 155 N. 1000 Reached West. Salt Lake Police conducted a traffic control on motorcycles while bystanders recorded the unusual procession on cell phones.

Describing the urban cattle drive on Monday as “surreal,” the governor joined the Days of ’47 Rodeo chairman Kem Gardner to encourage Utahners to attend events for several days ahead of Pioneer Day on Saturday.

Cox said those who received their COVID-19 vaccine should feel good joining a large crowd in the open-air arena.

“If you’ve been vaccinated, don’t worry,” said the Republican governor. “If not, I would be very concerned and very careful around crowds, so I would only encourage people to get vaccinated.”

Abby Cox, who works on a cattle ranch in Mt. Pleasant, she grinned as she took a lap around the arena on Sunday. She said this week’s events will help Utahners who yearn for a sense of community to find it in the pandemic.

“I think we often see real divisions from social media and things like that,” she said. “But when you come to an event like this, you feel at home.”

Days of ’47 celebrations this week:

  • Float Preview Party, Monday, July 19 and Tuesday, July 20, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Mountain America Expo Center, 9575 S. State, Sandy
  • Cowboy Games and Rodeo, 20.-24. July, event times vary, Utah State Fair Park
  • Deseret News Marathon, 10K and 5K Half Marathon, Friday July 23; Marathons start at 5:30 am, 10km at 6am, 5km at 7am; Races begin near Emigration Canyon and the University of Utah Research Park
  • Sunrise service, Friday, July 23, 7 a.m. in the assembly hall on Temple Square
  • Days of ’47 Parade, Friday, July 23 at 9:00 am in downtown Salt Lake City; Route begins at South Temple and State, runs east to 200 East, turns south to 900 South, then east to Liberty Park, and joins KSL, Ch. 5.

Visit daysof47.com for more information.

This story will be updated.

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