WASHINGTON CITY — In recognition of the 160th Washington County Fair, this year’s parade, which serves to kick off a jam-packed week of entertainment starting Aug. 4, will return to its roots in Washington City.
“Washington City is where Dixie began, and we’re honoring that heritage,” parade organizer and Washington County Fair board member Marcia Whitney said.
The first county fair was held in September 1860 at the estate of John D. Lee. At the time, Washington City was the county seat and St. George was not yet settled. Families from surrounding towns journeyed by horseback and wagon to show off their livestock, crops and crafts, this rare opportunity to gather perhaps offering a moment’s reprieve from the hardships of pioneer life.
According to research compiled by the Washington City Historical Society, “It was probably looked forward to by young and old alike, with the eagerness and anticipation of young children waiting for Christmas. The first county fair was assuredly an occasion for not only everyone in Washington but also those in all the other towns of the Virgin River Basin … They converged from all points of the compass on Washington for the momentous event.”
More than a century and a half later, reflections of these early settlers and their resilience through troubling times served as inspiration for the theme of this year’s fair. “Better Together” is a celebration of Washington County’s unique spirit and a reminder of the strength of a community that supports one another.
“The theme is very perfect for this year. I think the county is ready to get out, to socialize, to be involved again,” Whitney said. “People are ready to celebrate something again.”
Local history and pioneer heritage will be commemorated throughout many floats in the parade.
“We’re very honored and very excited,” Washington City Council Member Kurt F. Ivie added. “We love our city. There’s very proud people here in Washington that love our heritage and history.”
As in 2019, the parade will serve to open the fair before exhibits and entertainment get underway at Hurricane’s Washington County Legacy Park on Aug. 5. Whitney told St. George News that the fair board decided to use the parade as an introduction by moving it to Tuesday evening, rather than during the fair on a Saturday morning, in hopes of increasing attendance. Last year’s parade saw both more spectators and entries than previous editions, which she anticipates will continue.
The parade will begin promptly at 7 p.m. After departing from the Washington City Community Center and turning south, the route continues along 300 East to Telegraph Street, then heads north on Main Street.
Onlookers can expect not only floats but classic cars, horses, marching bands and local royalty. Cash prizes of $200 will be awarded for Commissioner’s Choice and Best Themed, and $100 will go to the People’s Choice. Serving as grand marshals are Evan and Faith Stapley, founders of Stapley Pharmacy and residents of Washington City for 44 years.
Immediately following the parade, Veterans Park will host the Fair Kickoff Party featuring music, inflatables, treats and giveaways. Admission is free. During the celebration, the Old School and Historical Museum at 25 E. Telegraph St. will be open for tours.
“We want everyone to come and enjoy a little taste of Americana,” Ivie said. “This parade is a way for us to thank our county and our neighbors.”
The Washington County Fair will continue through Aug. 8. Admission is free, but parking costs $5. The full schedule can be viewed online.
- What: Washington County Fair Parade.
- When: Aug. 4 at 7 p.m.
- Where: Washington City Community Center, 350 Community Center Drive, Washington City.
- Tickets: Free.
- Resources: Website.
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