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Members of the Church in the Bakersfield California Region commemorate Pioneer Day each year by making it a community-wide event.

Melvin Thompson, chairman of the festivities, explained that commemorating the sacrifices and contributions of pioneers - both LDS and non-LDS - is an annual event in this area. "Pioneer Day is intended as a community-based event to recognize Kern County's pioneer heritage," he added.In fact, in the early 1980s, July 24 was proclaimed Pioneer Day by the Kern County Board of Supervisors and the Bakersfield City Council. The proclamation has been renewed almost every year since then.

This year, some 5,000 people joined together July 22 at Pioneer Village, a re-creation of a small town from Kern County's past, which includes stores, businesses, a blacksmith's shop and numerous restored Victorian homes all surrounding a town square. Last year's celebration drew more than 4,000 people from throughout the area.

As in past years, Pioneer Day activities included a children's parade; children's games, including making necklaces from colored macaroni and face painting; handicraft displays and old-fashioned craft demonstrations, such as candle-making and wood carving; and traditional pioneer food, including homemade pies and a pie-judging contest.

Live entertainment in a white gazebo on the town square included a barbershop quartet, a Dixieland band and other singers.

According to Clareen Hays, director of public affairs for the Bakersfield California Region, Pioneer Day is the only day of the year that the public can enter the Pioneer Village free of charge. To arrange free admission, members of the Church in this area rendered community service at the village by sanding and repainting about 400 rusted chairs for the village museum, raking and cleaning up the grounds, trimming bushes and shrubs, and donating and planting rose bushes.

In addition to the celebration at Pioneer Village, the Kern County Pioneer Day festivities also includes The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Night at the Bakersfield Blaze minor league baseball game. Each year, Rick Smith, who is LDS and is the general manager for the baseball team provides free tickets for Church members and their guests.

"As you can see, this is an event the entire community looks forward to," Sister Hays noted. "It was a day to remember."


By Peggy W. Taylor, Public Affairs specialist New Bern Ward

The New Bern (N.C.) Ward celebrated Pioneer Day Saturday July 22, under the direction of the activities committee.

The celebration began at 4 p.m. with two of the ward's young women, Jessica Birdsong and Jennifer Hadnot, doing two tap numbers to the tune of "Peter Gun" and "You Ain't Never Had a Friend Like Me."

Afterward, adults gathered around and fellowshiped, while the youth played volleyball, jumped rope and enjoyed a dunking booth. The dunking booth has been a ward Pioneer Day tradition for several years.

While the activities were going on, two of the brethren cooked hamburgers, hot dogs and sausages outside on the grill, and the sisters prepared tables inside for dinner. The meal was served with all the trimmings plus cupcakes, watermelon and soda pop.

Ward members enjoyed being together and celebrating the pioneer legacy.


The Mt. Vernon Virginia Stake single adults, with the aid of the young single adults, sponsored the 2nd Annual Pioneer 5K Family Fun Run to commemorate Pioneer Day. The race was held July 22 at Hains Point, located near the Jefferson Memorial in the nation's capital. The event was open to all stake members and the public.

Approximately 40 people turned out - men, women and youth - to participate, with 64 percent of the participants being non-LDS. After the race, runners enjoyed light refreshments. Trophies were awarded to the top male and female runners. All runners received a ribbon embossed with "Pioneer Memorial 5K race."

After the race, Matt Hansen, single adult representative and race organizer, stood up before the crowd and explained somewhat more about the pioneers and their trek to the Salt Lake Valley.

Stake Pres. David Peterson noted that the fun run is an excellent way to reach non-LDS and interest them in the gospel.