Skookum Day – have you heard of it? – was a celebration begun in Fort Collins in October of 1916. Here’s what the Fort Collins Morning Express had to say about it:
“On Friday, October 27, Fort Collins will celebrate her first annual ‘Skookum Day.’ Heretofore it has been variously designated as a carnival, a festival and a fete; from this time forward it is ‘Skookum Day,’ and the people of Fort Collins should remember the new name, learn its translation and get it firmly fixed in their minds. For ‘Skookum Day’ is to be an annual event, a bigger show each succeeding year, and ‘Skookum Day’ should soon come to be one of the most widely known celebrations in Colorado.” (“First Skookum Day,” Fort Collins Morning Express, October 17, 1916, page 1)
In that first year there was an auto and industrial parade (with floats), a Mystery Queen, masked revelers, buildings decorated, awards given, and something called Callithumpians. What a party! As summed up by one journalist:
“Yes, the Skookum Day was ‘skookum’ in the superlative degree, and the new lights and paving have certainly been given an initiatory use which will go down in the annals of the city.” (“Masked Revel is Thoroly [sic] Enjoyed by Mighty Throng,” Fort Collins Morning Express, October 28, 1916, page 1)
An article anticipating the event came out on October 17, 1916; and post-event articles come out on October 28, 1916 – and you can read them all in the Archive.
And just where did the name Skookum come from? George Shaw chose it, having informed the selection committee that skookum was a Chinook Indian word meaning “up and coming,” “full of pep” or “coming to life.”