CF&I Field Day
The Colorado Fuel and Iron Company’s annual summertime picnic was a highly anticipated event. Known as Field Day, it was a time for merriment, seeing old friends and acquaintances, and relaxing. The first official Field Day exercise occurred in August of 1915 in an effort to boost company morale and communication between employees and management. All employees and families were invited to attend. Committees were arranged to be in charge of a particular area of the event such as refreshments, floats, and information booths.
Women’s nail driving contest, 1920
Contests included nail driving competition for women, the largest family contest, and various foot and sack races. Other featured events this summer included a parade, and a beauty contest. Prizes given included: shoes, cigars, kitchen cabinets, handkerchiefs, money, books and even a washing machine. The event eventually became an annual tradition and attendance grew each year. During the August, 1920 Field Day held at Trinidad, company publication The Industrial Bulletin estimated between 4,000 and 5,000 people in attendance. The Field Day held in Pueblo for Minnequa Plant employees that year drew 15,000 attendees.
Children’s shoe race at the annual picnic at the Rockvale Mine in Fremont County, 1926. The object of the game was
at the whistle to race to the middle of the pile. The winner was the one able to get his or her shoe on their feet first.
Normally held in August, the date of the Field Day exercise was changed to following the start of the United States’ involvement in the Great War in 1917 to July 4. The annual event usually began with speeches, reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, and singing of the Star Spangled banner to show employee patriotism.
Boys wheelbarrow race at the annual Independence Day picnic and celebration at the Minnequa Steelworks in Pueblo, 1919
From the first event in the morning until the last attendee left in the evening, there were attractions every hour for men, women and children. Some festivities included: first aid contest demonstrating practical skills and techniques in mine rescue and safety, foot races, cracker eating contests, sewing and needlework competitions, shoe race, nail driving competition, and swimming competitions. Pie eating contests were also popular. According to company publication The Blast, the 1930 Field Day expanded to new contests, including a greasy pole climbing contest in the middle of Lake Minnequa with the underdog (or the victor if you have ever experienced Pueblo summers) taking a dive into the cold water below.