May Day marks the halfway point between the first day of spring and summer solstice. However, in the United States during the late 19th century, May Day took on a new meaning. International Workers’ Day commemorated Chicago’s Haymarket Massacre where workers, striking for an 8-hour working day, were shot and killed during police conflict.
During that time and into the 20th century, America continued to celebrate the innocence of spring. Flowers, candies and other goodies were gathered in handmade baskets and secretly hung on the front door knobs of friends, neighbors and loved ones. The gifter rang the doorbell and ran away. If the recipient of the gift caught the giver, a kiss was allowed.
May Day Festival was an important celebration in Soap Lake for many years. Our town held beauty pageants, parades and grade school programs with proud parents watching from the side lines.
May Festival 1926 – Princess Mary McWillis, Mayor George Krau, Queen Ruby Russell and Princess Honora Thorson (Grant County Museum)
1927 – Scheib and Finney families celebrate May Day (Grant County Museum)
1928 - School children perform May Day program on Soap Lake’s sandy beach
(Grant County Museum)