I can't really say that I have been around a lot, certainly nothing in comparison to friends who grew in military families and moved to a different state every few months. But I have lived in several smaller comminutes the past 30 years, always in the north or west. Never in this entire time have I seen so many community celebrations and festivals as I have seen in eastern Utah.
Week in and week out throughout the summer months every community takes its turn in providing an opportunity for folks to gather and enjoy each other. Last year I wrote an editorial complaining about so many activities scheduled the same weekend, however I realize now, going into my second summer here in Castle Country, that there has to be many events planned at the same time because there just isn't enough time to fit everything in. It does make it difficult to take pictures at all the events, but the festivals and fun are well worth the hectic schedules. And people seem to flock to these activities all over the county.
The festivals really kicked into high gear this past weekend as we celebrated Independence Day. One reporter was busy taking pictures in Price at the fireworks while another person traveled down to Heritage Days in Huntington. I went up to Scofield Friday and camped out in order to get a head start at Pleasant Valley Days Saturday.
I realized a few hours into the celebration in Scofield how incredibly smooth these activities were going and how everything just seemed to fall into place.
I am not sure if anyone has written a book that serves as a complete planning guide for organizing community festivals or celebrations but I really think someone in Utah could make a mint by listing all the fun activities and penning how to pull off successful celebrations in small town America.
I went through a few festival schedules that have been held or are planned. To pull off a perfect community celebration here are some thoughts that work very well in Utah.
First of all it should start with a breakfast and have at least one flag ceremony. There are a multitude of vendors in the area and after attending a few of the celebrations I begin to recognize their faces and their wares. Many of these businesses are craft related and create excellent gifts. In fact, the majority of last year's Christmas gifts I gave others were purchased throughout the summer at the various Castle Country fairs and festivals.
Activities like fun runs, horse shoe tourneys, kid's bike contests, trap shoot contests, and three-on-three basketball are all popular in Utah. Pet and doll parades are excellent ideas to work into the bigger parade themes and don't forget pie auctions, free entertainment, the climbing wall, and the ever popular petting zoo. A festival wouldn't be a festival without the clowns, magic shows and face paintings. And growing in popularity is the karaoke contests.
A few of the bigger ticket events include rodeos, golf tourneys, demolition derbies, art festivals, and ATV rides.
Musical entertainment is a must for a community celebration, whether it's through a talent show, square dancing, big name entertainment, or just free music in a park by a few of the local bands or groups.
And in Utah its seems as though the lamb feed is a must. That event pops up over and over again.
Also unique to this area is the duckie races in Scofield and the various water melon contests in Green River. Royalty and queen contests seem to be part of every rodeo or county fair celebration.
A most of the larger celebrations end with fireworks, a perfect ending to a great day.
It's fun and its here. There's never a shortage of things to do this time of the year in our two-county area. We just need to suit up and show up for a whole lot of community fun.