14 April 2021

Marble Tournaments

Clipping from SL Trib 1929-04-21

Marble tournaments for kids used to be a big thing in SLC.

The Salt Lake Telegram sponsored the first formalized SLC citywide marble tournament in April 1923.

Tournaments were held in city parks and schoolyards during school’s Spring Break with trophies offered to the winners.

The official rules did not indicate the game was to only be played by boys, but that was generally who entered. I saw a few instances of girls playing in national tournaments but none in the local SLC games (girls may have played in SLC and it just was not reported in the newspapers).

By the early 1930s SLC had taken over sponsorship of the marble tournaments and thousands of children entered the contest each year. Semi-finalists who won at each regional city park or schoolyard advanced to the finals, which were generally played at Liberty Park.

By 1935 the marble tournament (for boys) was combined with the hopscotch tournament (for girls) and competitions were jointly held.

After WWII the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) became a co-sponsor and helped with judging the competition.

The marble tournaments continued through the late 1960s by which time Salt Lake County Recreation had taken over sponsorship.

Marble tournaments declined in SLC during the 1970s.

Although marble tournaments still occur, they are no longer a SLC sponsored event.

SL Telegram 1931-04-01

SL Trib 1932-03-26

SL Trib 1933-04-09

SL Trib 1938-04-08

SL Trib 1942-04-12

SL Trib 1946-03-30

SL Trib 1948-06-04

SL Trib 1951-04-11

SL Trib 1963-05-05


  1. My great-grandfather was the winner of the 1923 Marble Tournament. The trophy was presented by Viola Dana, a silent film star. We still have the trophy and I would love to send you a picture if you would like to add that to your article!