While the Town of Johnstown was established in 1902, the idea of a local celebration started a decade later, in 1912 with Dairy Day, to promote the dairy industry in this area. Circus-type tents were set up to house events and cattle judging. Farmers from throughout the state, as well as surrounding states, came to Johnstown to exhibit their cattle, see the exhibits, and hear speakers with the industry. They also brought their families to enjoy the carnival rides, games, entertainment and food of the day.
The start of the local dairies – and Dairy Day – was said to be the beginning of the dairy business in northern Colorado. The Great Depression and World War II saw a lapse in local festivities. Residents revived the day for several years at the end of the 1940’s and early 1950’s, but 1951 saw the last Dairy Day.
About a decade later, however, area businessmen came up with Crazy Day to attract more people to shop in Johnstown. The new day, which was initiated in 1963, proved very popular. Merchants and employees dressed up in “crazy clothes” during the day and held special promotions and sidewalk sales.
The Johnstown Business Men’s Club took over the sponsorship of the day, and by 1968, it had evolved into an event where everyone was encouraged to wear outlandish costumes, and a parade featuring floats was added. A roasted pig was served free to the customers at Hays Market that year. The barbecued pork proved to be the start of Barbecue Day, for the next year – 1969 – the day was officially name as such, the celebration was moved to Parish Park, and the day started a 30-plus year tradition.
For one year in the late 1980’s, the Chamber of Commerce changed the name to Barbecue Days, and experimented with a whole weekend festival.
The last Barbecue Day was in 1999. In June of 2000, the name was changed by the Johnstown/ Milliken Chamber of Commerce to BBQ Daze. Then in 2006 the Johnstown/Milliken Chamber of Commerce relinquished the organizing duties of BBQ Daze, and a group of local citizens took over, reverting the name to BBQ Day.
BBQ Day was canceled for the first time in decades in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 2021 viability has yet to be fully determined.