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Celebrating Mesquite’s 30th Mesquite Days
By Stephanie Frehner
Initially, with this special section of today’s Mesquite Local News, we were going to point out the important moments that have brought this town to what it is today. When that proved to be nearly impossible due to time and space constraints, we thought of doing a comprehensive history on Mesquite Days alone. With Mesquite Days 1985 being the first celebration of a newborn city, this week marks the 30th year in existence.
Thanks to Virgin Valley Heritage Museum Coordinator, Elspeth Kuta, the MLN was able to dig up numerous tidbits of information on the history of Mesquite Days and some of the people who were part of it through the years. Unfortunately, while our story today may have several holes, we hope to add to this year’s motto, “Celebrating Mesquite’s Heritage Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.”
The committees and organizations that set everything up for each year’s events have stayed with the same format throughout the years. For most years, mottos were found that often suggested to those who didn’t know Mesquite, that it was the best thing since sliced bread. Mottos such as “A Star on The Horizon” in 1988 to “Nevada’s Rising Star” for 1992 and even “City of Champions” in 1996. 2005’s motto, “A Community Through Unity” signified the residents’ achievement of pushing the adult entertainment store out of business.
For 1986, they celebrated the opening of the Museum and offered a barbeque dinner for just $1. However, one flyer for the event noted that ‘Western Attire Required’ or else a person could risk being thrown into an undesirable pile of questionable substance. Perhaps it was a pile of horse manure or a bucket of slop for the pigs.
In 1987, the city celebrated the new dedication of softball fields. 1989 brought the groundbreaking ceremonies for the current airport’s location and 1990 featured tours of the airport, new library, the welcome station and the museum. At this time, a majority of the events for Mesquite Days were held at Pioneer Memorial Complex, where the softball fields are.
1994 saw a local playwright’s production of “Miss Kate,” a Mesquite Musical. Photos and script from this event are available in several binders at the Museum today.
In 1995, the Mesquite Chamber and City Officials decided to combine Mesquite Days with the Virgin Valley Festival so that participation would increase and there would be more activities.
Finally, in 1999, the main addition to the Mesquite Days events was the opening of the Recreation Center on West Old Mill Road. From what was found in the books at the museum, the outdoor pool may have already been there, but the newer building, which is currently utilized year-round by hundreds, was built and opened.
Today, many of the traditions that began in 1985 with the first Mesquite Days celebration are in tact. Bake-offs, carnivals, community events and fun are steadfast components that have remained strong. In the past, there have been fireworks, races, rodeos and other competitions that brought excitement to the community. Where Mesquite Days goes from here is completely up to you – the existing community. With the right donations of time and/or funding, Mesquite Days could turn into something measurable to that of the Clark County Fair, a main event that draws visitors from all over the world because of the variety of events. Finding a balance of what to schedule and when is a key factor in producing its success.
2015 Mesquite Days Grand Marshall
Special to the MLN
Mrs. Susan Bennett will be honored as the 2015 Mesquite Days Parade Grand Marshall.
Susan came to Mesquite in 1986 with a degree in Theatre, Journalism and English from Utah State and taught all three for twenty years at local schools. During that time, she directed one hundred plays and musicals. She was often assisted by her husband, the late Sherman Bennett as the musical director and Pat Reber as choreographer.
Susan started doing theatre in the old High School Facility, which is now the Mesquite Community Theater. In 1992, Susan helped organize the Mesquite Arts Council to bring a variety of professional entertainment to our valley.
In 2008, Susan organized Mesquite Kids on Stage with her daughter-in-law Jenny Bennett and Pat Reber.
Over the years, Susan has organized many community benefits to enable the art community to respond to personal and community needs and in 2009 Susan served as a founding member and first secretary of the Greater Mesquite Arts Foundation.
Susan was very involved in high school athletics, as her husband was the athletic director, tournament director and assistant baseball coach. Susan supported the athletic program by being a member of the athletic booster club and writing stories about the many athletic activities at the school. For this reason, she and her husband were inducted into the Virgin Valley High School Hall of Fame.
This past February, Susan was the 2015 Greater Mesquite Arts Foundation honoree for her many contributions to the Arts community over the years.
After directing plays for the past 55 years, Susan will appear in a play for the first time. She will have a roll-on part in the play “Fly Willie” presented this Mesquite Days weekend at the Community Theater.
Mesquite Days Entertainment Schedule
Each event held at Recreation Center Field Stage, 100 W. Old Mill Road
Friday, May 1:
5 p.m.: Music
6 p.m.: On Beat Dance Studio Performance
7:30 – 9:30 p.m.: Steve Lungrin
Saturday, May 2:
5 – 7 p.m.: Glennis Jones
7:30 – 9:30 p.m.: Karaoke by Stephanie Frehner & Stateline Casino