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JULY 18-20, 2024

Manassa Pioneer Days is one of the oldest festivals in the state of Colorado, tracing it’s history back to the founding of Manassa in 1879 by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Manassa originated with convert immigrants from the southern states and saints who had previously settled in Utah, but were “called” by their church leaders to help with settlements in the San Luis Valley. These saints from Utah brought with them the tradition of celebrating the 24th of July, in honor of Brigham Young’s arrival in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah on July 24, 1847.


Assuming that Manassa’s first 24th of July celebration was in 1879, Pioneer Days have been held almost continually for 143 years [in 2022]. Early celebrations included a “procession” through town (parade); oral recitations, songs and speakers in the church; children’s foot races; horse races around a city block; and dances for adults and children.

Over the years, the tradition of Pioneer Days grew and became a reason to “come home” – to join with family and friends to celebrate the small town of Manassa. For one weekend in July, the town swells to nearly 10,000 people, and it’s a big deal! In order to make the celebration a success, a staggering number of volunteers donate countless hours of hard work every year, but the result is spectacular.

We now celebrate with a 5k run (in its 45th year), a parade known for its amazing floats, a carnival and live entertainment down-town, as well as the infamous hamburger stand. At the rodeo grounds, two days of rodeo events and the incredibly popular demolition derby are held. And on Saturday night, as the festivities die down, fireworks and the lighting of the “M” on the mountain remind us why we love our heritage and this amazing small Colorado town. We’re grateful for the pioneers from many different backgrounds that made Manassa home.

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