Why Do Some Utah Residents Look Forward to Pie and Beer Day?

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Why Do Some Utah Residents Look Forward to Pie and Beer Day?

Mormons have ‘Pioneer Day,’ but what’s a non-Mormon to do on Utah’s biggest holiday?

In the state of Utah, where an estimated 65 percent of the population identifies as a member of the Mormon faith — in Utah County, that number exceeds 80 percent — it can be hard to escape the prescriptive traditions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS.

Utah recognizes Mormon heritage with a holiday called Pioneer Day, which celebrates the day Mormons discovered the Salt Lake Valley, and includes a parade with floats. Each year, Pioneer Day is celebrated on July 24, and it’s so big that many government offices are closed on the date.

But some years ago, the state’s non-Mormons began an alternate holiday on the 24th called “Pie and Beer Day,” and local bars are starting to warm to the idea. Mormons, meanwhile, abstain from alcohol, coffee, and tea.

“It started catching as on as a counterculture thing,” Mike Riedel, author of the Utah Beer blog, told The Associated Press. “People who are not really LDS get a free day out of it, and it turned into something they could call their own.”

At one bar, the Shooting Star Saloon, waitresses dress up in bonnets and give out free pie. “We have root beer, too. We don’t discriminate,” owner Leslie Sutter told the AP.