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In 1994, the Utah State Legislature designated Square Dancing to be the state folk dance of Utah (Utah Code). The Utah Code states "...square dancing means the folk dance which is called, cued, or prompted to the dancers, and includes squares, rounds, clogging, contra, line, and heritage dances."
Modern western square dance clubs across the country have collaborated to have the Square Dance declared the state folk dance in all fifty states.
They have also been active in efforts to make the Square Dance the national folk dance. There is some controversy over their efforts.
The Mormon Pioneers loved to dance
and they participated in wholesome entertainment to escape the rigors of the harsh frontier life.
Andrew Love Neff, in his book History of Utah 1847-1869, says "The Mormons love dancing... almost every third man is a fiddler, and every one must learn to dance. In the winter of 1854-1855, there were dancing schools in almost every one of the nineteen school houses, and necessarily so much more attention to dancing involved so much less attention to study." He went on to say "Let it be remembered that only square dances were indulged in, that the gatherings were opened and closed with prayer, and that preachments were often interspersed with dancing, a happy combination of religion with pleasure and enjoyment..."
The early British traveler, Richard Burton, noted that everyone danced including The Prophet, the Apostles, the Bishops which lent a highly cultural value and worth, and of course it did bring young women and young men together in a social setting which might result eventually in marriage.
In the mid 1990s an attempt was made to pass a bill in the US Congress to designate square dancing as the national folk dance. However, the United States has designated only five national symbols, the flag, the Great Seal, the national anthem, the bald eagle, and the American rose; the square dance didnÂ´t stand a chance! But, having failed on a national level, contemporary square dancers have attempted to coordinate efforts across the US to have square dancing declared the state folk dance of all fifty states. There are more than 20 states that have passed legislation so far.
The law designating the square dance as the official Utah state folkj dance is found in the Utah Statutes, Title 63, Chapter 13, Section 63-13-5.5 (12).
TITLE 63. State Affairs in General.
CHAPTER 13. Miscellaneous Provisions.
SECTION 63-13-5.5. State Symbols.
63-13-5.5. State symbols.
(1) Utah's state animal is the elk.
(2) Utah's state bird is the sea gull.
(3) Utah's state centennial astronomical symbol is the Beehive Cluster located in the constellation of Cancer the Crab.
(4) Utah's state centennial star is Dubhe, one of the seven bright stars composing the Big Dipper in the constellation Ursa Major.
(5) Utah's state centennial tartan, which honors the first Scots known to have been in Utah and those Utahns of Scottish heritage, shall have a pattern or repeating-half-sett of white-2, blue-6, red-6, blue-4, red-6, green-18, red-6, and white-4 to represent the tartan worn anciently by the Logan and Skene clans, with the addition of a white stripe.
(6) Utah's state cooking pot is the dutch oven.
(7) Utah's state emblem is the beehive.
(8) Utah's state fish is the Bonneville cutthroat trout.
(9) Utah's state flower is the sego lily.
(10) Utah's state folk dance is the square dance, the folk dance that is called, cued, or prompted to the dancers and includes squares, rounds, clogging, contra, line, and heritage dances.
(11) Utah's state fossil is the Allosaurus.
(12) Utah's state fruit is the cherry.
(13) Utah's state vegetable is the Spanish sweet onion.
(14) Utah's historic state vegetable is the sugar beet.
(15) Utah's state gem is topaz, as is prominently found in the Thomas Mountain Range in Juab County, Utah.
(16) Utah's state grass is Indian rice grass.
(17) Utah's state hymn is "Utah We Love Thee" by Evan Stephens.
(18) Utah's state insect is the honeybee.
(19) Utah's state mineral is copper.
(20) Utah's state motto is "Industry."
(21) Utah's state railroad museum is Ogden Union Station.
(22) Utah's state rock is coal.
(23) Utah's state song is "Utah This is the Place" by Sam and Gary Francis.
(24) Utah's state tree is the blue spruce.