Mendon May Day— 1950
Mendon Slates May Day Fete— Traditional May Day celebration in Mendon, under direction of Sunday school superintendency, Earl Buist, Rulen Ladle and William Longstroth, Jr., will be held Saturday beginning at 10:00 a.m. on the square of the chapel. The Queen LaPriel Heninger, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Heninger will be crowned by her Consort, Alton Bird, son of Bishop and Mrs. Reeves Bird. The maypole dance will then be presented by a group of boys and girls under direction of Mozelle Sorensen and Ruth Shelton. A program will follow in the chapel under direction of superintendent Earl Buist. Afternoon activities, under direction of Zeno Andersen, will include a stock show by the 4-H club at 1:00 p.m.; children’s dance at 2:00 p.m. with Mendon Orchestra playing; races for young and old, fat, slim, short, tall; trap shoot, also set at 1:00 p.m. at the pea-vinery. Dancing in the evening will conclude the day’s program.
In Community Of Mendon, May Day Is Quite A Tradition!— When the citizens of Mendon celebrate May Day today they observed a festival which dates back to the earliest days of the community and to which they have clung tenaciously while other towns have let the custom slip into the limbo of forgotten things. Approach any old-timer in Mendon today, during the festivities for which the town has been preparing for weeks, and he will likely start reminiscing with “I remember a May Day when I was just a boy…” In 1860’s: No one seems to know when the Mendonites celebrated their first May Day, but it is fairly certain that it was a firmly established institution as early as the late 60’s. Other Utah communities, including Logan and Wellsville, once had their annual May Day festivals too, complete with maypole winding, Queen of the May, and all the rest, but Mendon is the only one left in Cache County, perhaps in the state, which observes the day with all the attention and enthusiasm due to an ancient holiday. In the Mendon calendar May Day is equaled in importance only by Christmas and July 24th. It is one of those days by which the year is measured, a day to which young and old look forward and which becomes an integral part of one’s memories of the past. “Who will be chosen queen?” and “Who will be the queen’s escort and attendants?” are important questions especially among the young people of junior high school age who participate in the winding of the maypole. Usual Schedule: The program held in the forenoon in the chapel, the sports events in the afternoon, and the big dance at night are all important parts of the day’s schedule, but the winding of the maypole and the crowning of the queen form the highlight. This will be so tomorrow as it was eighty years ago. There is no doubt that the May Day festival, which has its origins in the pagan customs of the north and west of Europe, was originally introduced and given its special coloring in Mendon by good Anglo-Saxon or Scandinavia people harking back to meaningful old country traditions. Professor Alma N. Sorensen of Logan, who is a native of Mendon, has many memories of Mendon May Days and is full of information about the traditional festival. One of his earliest recollections is of the festival of 1885, when he was a boy of six. And he recalls a whole series after that date. Gala Day: It was a gala day! If the good Lord had provided warm bright weather and an early spring, there were plenty of blossoms— apple, plum or cherry. The populace was out early, probably awakened by the singing of a quartet or chorus directed by Isaac Sorensen and carried about the community at dawn on a hay wagon. At the morning hour appointed for the winding of the maypole everyone assembled at the town square. There was a spirit of geniality and brightness in the crowd, of expectancy, of gratefulness for the coming of spring. Everyone in a holiday mood. Then came the procession. The town fathers and the church fathers (from the first, it seems the May Day festivities were under direct charge of the officers of the Sunday school), then the May Queen and her escort (called the Archbishop in the old days, for some strange reason), and the attendants and their escorts. All carried garlands of fresh blossoms.
Queen and attendants and escorts were not quite so young in those days as they are in the present festivals; something nearer to the age of brides and bridegrooms. But it was always children who wound the maypole. The Singing: The whole wonderful, gaily colored procession was led by Marshall’s town band, and it marched along one side of the square, then around the end of the square, and finally two-thirds of the way along the other side before turning in to the maypole, which stood near the church building. And then there was singing, wonderful singing: “Come from the woodland away, away. Gathering flowers for the Queen of May; Everything lovely and bright and rare, Weaving a garland for one so fair. Sing with the wild birds our song today; LaPriel, our LaPriel is Queen of the May.” Then the crowning of the queen and winding of the maypole. And then everyone crowds into the church for the program. That is a time when everyone goes to church! And the day is filled out with sports and dancing. It is a big day. Tomorrow’s May Day in Mendon will be quite in the same tradition. But perhaps in place of the fair maidens singing songs of the spring, Linden K. Wood, the town’s well-known inventor, will be out to wake the town at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. with his steam calliope. The songs, however, will be the same songs, and there will be, if the weather is fair, the same spirit of brightness and gaiety and gladness. It will be a welcome to the spring, a fine and ancient tradition. May it not die!