Happy 163rd birthday Sugar House!
May 31, 2017 15h49
By Natalie Mollinet
A look at Sugar House in the 1950s. This is the corner of 2100 South and 1100 East where Barnes & Noble now stands. (Used by Permission/Utah State Historical Society).
By Natalie Mollinet |[email protected]
It’s been 163 years since Sugar House got its name from Margaret Smoot after she suggested it in April of 1854. The name has stuck, of course, and to celebrate the sweet-sounding neighborhood, the Sugar House Chamber puts on Sugar Days. It’s been an annual event for years.
“In 1948, they decided to celebrate the community’s birthday and that’s how Sugar Days came about,” Lori Gillespie, a Sugar House chamber board vice chair said. “It was celebrated around the monument on 2100 South in the heart of Sugar House.”
Sugar Days used to be a big deal in the 1950s and ‘60s when people would gather in “downtown” Sugar House to ride on a Ferris Wheel, win prizes and get to know their neighbors. Local businesses offered specials on some items and put on fun window displays for passersby.
“In the past, a lot of merchants would run specials like furniture stores,” Gillespie said. “They would give away five- to 10-pound bags of sugar with every purchase in the ‘50s.”
Other traditions included the selection of a Miss Sugar House, fashion shows, marching bands and floats. One year, the Chamber of Commerce decided to build a replica of the original Sugar Mill on the plaza. A contest was held to see how many sugar boxes the replica could hold and that winner received a shopping spree.
As the years went on, the excitement wavered and activities started to dwindle. It wasn’t until the 150th anniversary of Sugar House that the Sugar House Chamber brought Sugar Days back to life. Since then, Sugar House has celebrated its birthday during the weekend around April 23. In 2004, they held a parade at Fairmont Park and filled a time capsule with souvenirs from the year.
This year, during the weekend of April 21-23, businesses such as TCBY, Sugar House Coffee, Dunkin’ Donuts, Natural Grocers, Café Solstice and Just Organic Juice offered discounts on sweet treats to people who mentioned Sugar Days. Sample Sugar House was another event in which local restaurants offered menu specials, offering either a $15 special or a $30 special.
“I think it’s important,” Gillespie said about celebrating Sugar Days. “It bring our community together, people are drawn to Sugar House because it’s comfortable, it’s walkable and it feels friendly. It’s a great way to celebrate what our little community is.”
The chamber works hard to make sure Sugar Days isn’t overlooked. Gillespie noted that having Sugar Days in April is a perfect time to celebrate because people are out and about.
“I notice it on my block,” said Gillespie, a Sugar House local. “Winter keeps people held up in their homes but as soon as April comes, people are coming out of their homes and that’s kind of the feeling Sugar House has. It’s a community of people who have lived here for generations and those who are new.”