Dixon May Day Celebration
In Dixon, the May Day celebrations have been the highlight of the year since 1876. The Knights of Pythias were responsible for the preparations of the May Day activities and had a built a pavilion. A Queen was also selected to reign over the parade and day-long activities.
In 1855 the Dixon Driving Park Association, a gentlemen group in horse harness racing, built a racing track and pavilion which became the new site of the May Day celebration in 1886.
The May Day celebration was usually a two-day event, weather permitting, and always included the first day of May, until the introduction of the Dixon Chamber of Commerce in 1909. The May Day celebration was then moved to the weekend nearest the first of May.
Activities of the May Day celebration changed the times. There might or might not have been a Queen depending on who was doing the organizing. Events included Horse racing (buggy team contest and trotter races), picnics, bands, dances, games, foot races, bicycle races, baseball games, and Maypole dancing.
During the Depression days the May Day activities were more limited to a small parade, picnic, ball game, dance, and a band concert. The forties brought more problems with rationing of almost everything and a severe lack of young men, but the parades and picnicking continued. The 1940’s did see an increased interest in showing and exhibiting farm products and animals, in displaying the arts of homemaking, and flower exhibits. Horse shows and rodeos were introduced as main events. As the interest in these events began to decline, the fairgrounds played host to daredevil driver teams, motorcycle racing and stock car racing. A big attraction was the destruction of autos “Demolition Derbies” and big name bands.
The May Day celebration has endured through the years and is now a four-day affair which is the longest running State affiliated Parade and Fair in California.
The traditional historic parade is sponsored by the Dixon Chamber of Commerce, it is not a fundraiser, but an event that simply makes organizers and the citizens of Dixon proud. Through the joint effort of volunteers, community members, and the financial sponsors, the parade continues and grows each year.