HISTORY OF THE CEDAR FORT 24TH OF JULY CELEBRATION
The Water Fight
The celebration really starts on the 23rd, with a tradition that began sometime in the 1920’s and still exists. This activity attracts many non-residents, some of whom are great grandchildren of those who first participated. The water fight seems to have come about when a group of the local girls were having a slumber party on the evening of the 23rd. The boys found where they were and filled buckets of water from the ditch and doused the girls. The next year the boys received this treatment from the girls. From then on, the evening of the 23rd became an annual water fight. It used to begin at twilight, but now starts earlier in the day. Youngsters organize water brigades and stand in the streets or hide behind bushes to catch unsuspecting passers-by. Today some even use water hoses, balloons, water guns, fire extinguishers and even barrels with water pumps in the back of trucks.
The rodeo was started in the community about 1924. It took place in the south end of town. Cars were parked in a circle to provide the arena. If a rider got out of the circle he was on his own. The rodeo continued until the early thirties, when it was discontinued for a few years. The rodeo began again in 1939, when Harvey Dahl was Bishop. He suggested to the young L.D.S. men, that they could have a rodeo if they would attend their Sunday meetings. They would have to bring their own horses and practice for the event hoping they could put on the rodeo to collect funds to help build a new chapel. Several began to practice and soon that they were ready to have a rodeo. In the early forties, those interested in the rodeo built a new corral, south of town where the Sorensen’s and Jensen’s now live. The corral was built of poles left from the old telegraph line that went along the railroad to Toplift, up Five Mile Pass. Some gates were put together to form the one and only chute. But still, there was no arena. During this event Harvey Dahl, Glen Peterson, Harold Calton, and David Elton would act as the pick-up men, using their own horses. The stock consisted of whatever they could round up in town and often they would go on the mountain to obtain additional horses. Sometimes Pharis Ault provided the horses. Often calves were furnished by Will and Ernil Cook families and James Peterson. Finally by donation, they were able to acquire some snow fencing from the county. With “quakie” poles and Cedar Posts they cut, the men completed a fence around the arena.
The rodeos were such a great source of entertainment and fun for the town, that folks from other communities were coming to observe. In time, it became necessary to build a better facility. A beautiful site above town was purchased from James Strickland in 1953, on which construction began. Such a project took great effort from many of the town’s people and much donated time and equipment. They had to level the land, cut down trees and push the dirt around to form terraces where the cars could park, so as to look down on the arena.
The new arena now is surrounded with net wire fencing on good metal posts. There are holding pens, chutes and announcers stand. There is a beautiful view of the arena, as well as the entire valley, as spectators sit in their vehicles to observe the rodeo. In recent years some, of the stock are still obtained from town folk, but mostof the rough stock is now leased. Each year the committee has new problems to solve, but the rodeo goes on. The 24th of July is always the big celebration of the year. It begins at the Cedar Fort Park with a chuck wagon breakfast followed by the parade, a carnival, games, and the kid’s rodeo, with the rodeo ending the day’s celebration. The past few years they have added a pioneer pageant, town baseball game, and a concert in the park. Instead of just a one-day celebration it has turned into a whole week of fun and celebrating.