What makes Utah great? No, not in the red baseball cap kind of way, but in its essence?
I recently found myself pondering this when my 21-year-old nephew came to visit. Looking around at the doltish "This establishment is licensed as a ..." signs, and perhaps influenced by a certain Golden State Warrior's comments on local nightlife (or lack thereof), the outlook was grim. Clearly, Vegas we're not, but still, the Beehive has a charm all its own. I quickly found myself in the de facto role of Salt Lake City ambassador. "Do you know SLC has the first KFC?" I boasted. "Oh, and that right there is where they filmed High School Musical," I said as we drove by East High.
Factoids were plentiful, and by Day 2, it became apparent Salt Lake City—and the state as a whole—sells itself.
Maybe it's the all-inclusive weather, which lends itself to everything from rock climbing to hitting up six ski resorts in a single day. Maybe it's the opportunity to travel around the world in 80 plates thanks to the lasting impact of our immigrant communities. Perhaps it's the fact that locals band together at the drop of a hat to help those in need.
As it turns out, it's all that and more.
This issue is a celebration of our state's spirit, and along its pages, you'll find the most staff picks ever in a Best of Utah. You'll read about a certain tireless community advocate championing police accountability; a DIY project aimed at helping trans men pay for top surgery; spot an obscure Coming to America reference; and get up close and personal with a group of volunteers whose common goal is preserving a quirky sculpture garden—the centerpiece of which is a sphinx emblazoned with the likeness of Joseph Smith.
Like always, we also opened up the call lines and culled our readers for their best. We added two new categories this year, A&E and Health & Wellness, and you responded in record numbers. Some 8,000 of you cast 118,516 votes across 136 categories—a new milestone.
It was a herculean effort for sure; one that is a love letter to Utah, and a well-deserved pat on the back to those who truly make it great. Here's hoping that you agree, and the next time you encounter an out-of-state visitor, you spare them the trivia and hand them this magazine instead. Oh, and go Wildcats!