Local congregations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints celebrated Pioneer Day on July 24 in a variety of ways.

This event honors and remembers the suffering and trials of the Latter-day Saints on their journey west after being driven from their homes in Nauvoo, Illinois, by the mobs. Seeking religious freedom after being persecuted and hounded by those who did not want them in their midst, these hardy souls traveled 1,326 miles until they reached the Salt Lake Valley.

“This is the place,” announced Brigham Young, who was ill inside a wagon.

Socials with potluck dinners were held in air conditioned comfort in some units while others braved the heat and humidity to have outdoor picnics with vigorous pioneer games. Games of pull the stick, checkers, relays, and three-legged races and relays made for fun for all. Boating and swimming at the Shaw home in Crestview was very popular with everyone.

Some taught the art of butter making to their groups, others presented videos showing the pioneers braving the elements to reach their “Zion,” and members presented a history of the church in the local areas, which include Crestview, Baker, DeFuniak Springs, Niceville, Fort Walton Beach and Sandestin.

The primary children added their lively songs of handcarts pushing and pulling their loads across the bumpy prairies. There was also live music and sing-a-longs to round out the program.