By Naomi Hatch
The first Labor Day festival, called the Cucumber Festival, was held in Taylor in 1948 to celebrate the cucumber business, recognizing the importance of cucumber production to the local economy.
The Cucumber Queen won her title for selling the most tickets to the Labor Day dance. One of the prizes included a watch, which was donated by the Arnold Pickle and Olive Company.
The first Cucumber Queen was Myrtle Hatch Reidhead. She remembers wearing a beautiful long dress and waiting in a room for Mr. Arnold. This was the first year for him to crown the queen and he wasn’t sure of the procedure. He was handed a pillow with a crown on it and told to crown the queen, but wasn’t quite sure what to do, so he put the pillow and crown on Myrtle’s head.
Lorna Tenney Owens was crowned Cucumber Queen in 1959, and was horrified when she discovered she would have to ride a horse during the rodeo. She borrowed a horse from Bert Allen and entered the arena following Bob Hancock. It didn’t take long for the horse to realize she didn’t know much about horses. She said he did the rumba, jitterbug, fox trot, do-see-do and circle your partner, and if that wasn’t bad enough, as soon as they left the arena, the horse galloped home. She was almost late for her own coronation.
The old pickle car added to the cucumber festivities. Members of the Taylor Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints purchased the car from Stan Owens, and Speed Larson kept it going. The hubs were offset, which made for some very interesting maneuvers. It appeared to go up, down and sideways all at the same time, and it was painted some pretty interesting colors.
The cucumber business ended in the early 1960s and so did the festival.
Julia Freeman and C.H. Packer, members of the Snowflake/Taylor Chamber of Commerce, brought back the Labor Day traditions in 1984, celebrating Taylor sweet corn, which has continued for 30 years.