Cotton Days 2021: Everything you need to know for the Southern Utah celebration

Local News

ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4) – Kicking off the month of May, Southern Utah celebrates its historical roots and urges community members to embrace the city’s heritage by dedicating a week to history, rebirth, and homage to the Beehive States’ ancestors.

According to Washington City, the event came to life after many felt the need to celebrate the hard work made by early Southern Utah settlers.

As community members gather and cherish the city’s historic foundation, event organizers share excitment and gratitude for those involved.

“Cotton Days has been fantastic so far this year,” shares David A. Woodcock with Washington City. “What we really have enjoyed and appreciated has been all the volunteers who made the school field trips to Veterans Park possible as well as the other events.”

According to the city, Cotton Days is much more than a festival; it is a time for community members to learn, understand, and pay homage to Utah’s unique history.

“Thousands of people left their homes to come to Northern Utah to find a new life, and to live the religion of their choice. Arriving exhausted and ill, having hastily buried hundreds of loved ones along the way, they started their new lives,” recalls Washington City. “From this weary group, Brigham Young asked 38 families, all from the southern states, to travel to Southern Utah to grow cotton.”

Officials tell ABC4 these southerners were from states such as Mississippi, Alabama, Virginia, Texas, Tennessee, and the Carolinas. As soon as they arrived, the Cotton Mission came to rise; prompting historians to note Washington City as the first town established in the Virgin basin for the purpose of colonizing the land so that cotton could be grown.

“Cotton would not be available for use by these Utah pioneers. This directive was given to people who had left the fertile South to make their trek to Utah. They knew how to grow cotton, or at least had seen it grown,” shares Washington City. “These families were the forerunners of what would become known as “Utah’s Dixie,” so named by these stalwart Southerners who were no doubt homesick for the lives they had left behind.”

Washington City celebrates this homage through several activities hosted this May, including:

Historical Society Night

👉 May 7 at 6 p.m.

📍 Veterans Park – Map


Meet at Veterans Park for a wholesome family ice cream social, museum tour, and wagon rides to the Covington Home. Afterward, stay for the movie in the park, which will begin after the sun sets.

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Movie in the Park

👉 May 7 at 6 p.m.

📍 Veterans Park – Map

Veterans Park will also be the site for a wholesome family movie that everyone will enjoy. The movie will be Disney’s “Up.” Come enjoy vendors, food, and more.

Lion’s Club Breakfast

👉 May 8 at 7 a.m.

📍 Veterans Park – Map

A delicious breakfast of ham, eggs, and pancakes will be served in Veterans Park from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Saturday, courtesy of the Washington Utah Lions Club.

According to officials, this cash-only event aims to raise funds to help Washington City community service projects, scholarships, and sight programs. It is rumored Washington City Mayor Kenny Neilson may even serve breakfast participants personally!

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Cotton Days – 5K

👉 May 8 at 7 a.m.

📍 Sullivan Virgin River Soccer Park – Map

The 2021 Cotton Days 5k is a family fun run down the Virgin River Trail, starting at Sullivan Soccer Park. Registration fees are $25 for the first family member and $15 for each additional family member (up to six people).

Event organizers share those participating can grab their Cotton Days 5k shirt between 6 and 7 a.m. near the starting line. They also add that free breakfast vouchers will be given to all participants at the finish line.

Note: Everyone who participates receives a free pancake breakfast & t-shirt. There are no medals.
Officials say the registration deadline goes up till the race start time.

 5K Online Registration Click Here.

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Cotton Fest

👉 May 8 at 9 a.m.

📍Veterans Park – Map

“Come celebrate Washington City’s birthday. Traditions such as the parade, 5K run, rodeo, and of
course, the cotton fest held at Veterans Park,” informs event organizers.

Those planning on attending should anticipate festivities such as live entertainment, dance performances, vendor booths, free car seat checkups by the local police department, games, bounce houses, and a tractor pull. 

Anyone interested in being a vendor for the event is invited to apply here. Questions or inquiries can also be directed towards Marcia Whitney at 435-668-6626 or by email at marcia.whitney80@gmail.com.

Cotton Days – Parade

👉 May 8 at 9 a.m.

📍Telegraph Street – Map

Further commemorating the city’s heritage, Washington City will be hosting a Cotton Days parade. According to event organizers, those wanting to participate are asked to apply here. The parade lineup is from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. Saturday, May 8. It is anticipated that the parade will start promptly at 9 a.m.

“Lineup instructions, map, and entry number will be emailed prior to the date of the event. Line up will take place on 300 East,” informs the team.

According to officials, prizes will also be given for Mayor’s Choice Award and Best Themed Award.

There is currently no deadline for registration.

Download Parade Map

Cotton Days – Car Show

👉 May 8 at 10 a.m.

📍 Nisson Park – Map

“Come join your friends for a free Car Show-N-Shine! Follow the parade down to Nisson park and enjoy the amazing cars,” writes the city.

According to event organizers, more information regarding the event is yet to come. ABC4 will update as more becomes available.

Cotton Days – Tractor Pull

👉 May 8 at 11 a.m.

📍 Vacant Lot by old Nisson’s Foodtown – Map

“Join us for a rip-roarin’ good time. This event is free to the public to attend. Meet in the old Nisson’s Foodtown parking lot, and watch while these amazing antique tractors put on a great show,” shares Washington City.

Anyone seeking further information, is asked to contact Rosie Kirkland at (435) 862-6212.

Where does Washington City stand today following its historical past? To sum it up, as quoted in the Washington City magazine, “More than 135 years ago, Washington City was the birthplace of the Southern Utah Cotton Mission. Today, Washington City continues to enjoy its reputation as a leading city in the Washington County community where young families thrive, retired folks flourish, and visitors return again and again to enjoy the mild weather, the friendly people, the awesome landscape, and the peaceful lifestyle.”

To put things simply, Washington City is Southern Utah.

If you are planning on learning more about the city, here are seven historical sites worth checking out:

For more details regarding Southern Utah’s Cotton Days, visit CottonDays.org.

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