July 24, known around these parts as Pioneer Day, is a Utah state holiday. On this day we celebrate the pioneers' settling in Salt Lake.
The 24th is a huge holiday for Utahns, even bigger than July 4th. There are more parades and fireworks displays during the Days of 47 celebrations than on the earlier holiday in the month celebrating the country's independence.
In 1847, a group of Mormon pioneers, led by Brigham Young, headed out on a journey across the land with covered wagons and handcarts, determined to make a life in the west. They began the journey because they were suffering religious persecution where they were living in Nauvoo, Illinois. It is said that as Brigham Young gazed out on the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, he proclaimed "This is the Place".
To make it through their first, most critical winter, they immediately planted crops so they could survive the winter, since they were all alone with no supplies or established trade route.
They were inundated by a plague of crickets which started eating the crops and threatened thier survival. But just when hope seemed gone, the seagulls swarmed in and ate the crickets. It was proclaimed that the miracle was an act of God, and the seagull was designated the state bird.
The Mormon Pioneers, who originally named the area we now know as Utah, "Deseret", but the name was changed when they joined with the other states in the union and the state was officially named Utah.
For the 150 year anniversary (in 1997), a group of people made the trek from Nauvoo to Salt Lake City with handcarts and covered wagons and dressed in the traditional style.
More info on Utah's Pioneers: