- Americas Freedom Festival
Independence Day activities
Typically, an Independence Day holiday in Utah would be full of celebratory gatherings hosted by various cities and municipalities, offering some combination of food, games, music and a big fireworks show. Not surprisingly—and blessedly—most such gatherings have been cancelled for 2020, in an attempt to prioritize public safety over patriotic spectacle.
There are, however, still a couple of options that allow you to get in the spirit of the holiday without putting yourself in a high-risk crowd. While the Utah County-based America's Freedom Festival will not be holding most of the typical in-person events like the live concert, the skies over Utah County will still light up with spectacular fireworks. NuSkin, Provo City and other sponsors are making possible the grand show from three different locations—LaVell Edwards Stadium, Footprinter Park in Provo and Mountain View High School in Orem—at 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 4, accompanied by a special soundtrack broadcast on KSL radio (1160 AM/102.7 FM). Just find a spot to turn your eyes to the skies, and get your oohs and aahs in from a social distance.
For a slightly different spin on marking the occasion, Midvale Arts Council presents its Patriotic Virtual Celebration via Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/events/379181849686365/) on Friday, July 3 at 7:30 p.m. People were invited to submit short, family-friendly videos of music, poetry readings or other material on an Independence Day theme, which will be premiered for general viewing. If you want to show that the American spirit includes common sense, take advantage of ways to wish the nation "Happy Birthday" while keeping one another safe. (Scott Renshaw)
- Cottonwood Canyons Foundation
Wasatch Virtual Wildflower Festival
Every summer, the mountains of Utah come alive with stunning natural explosions of color, as wildflowers bloom throughout the Wasatch Range. Along with those flowers have typically come a range of activities hosted by the Cottonwood Canyons Foundation—but as we all understand by now, 2020 is going to have to be different. So instead of creating group events, Cottonwood Canyons Foundation has turned the month of July into a chance to celebrate all this beauty virtually, and safely.
This centerpiece of this year's customizable virtual experience is "Wildflower Wednesdays," with each Wednesday during July featuring free maps of wildflower hikes for a range of ability levels and hike durations throughout the area's four ski resorts. Included in these maps is a "weekly wildflower" for hikers to search for, and take a picture of to post on social media for an opportunity to win a weekly prize. Just grab a map and your hiking gear, and go exploring whenever your own schedule permits.
For those looking to add a little more to their Wildflower Festival experience, there are ways to do so while also helping provide financial support to CCF's programs. A $25 registration will grant you access to 31 days of daily wildflower videos, as well as an invitation to "Ask a Naturalist" Zoom events, kids' activity sheets and a copy of the 2018 Wildflowers of the Cottonwood Canyons guide. Make it $50, and you'll also receive a weekly link to online cooking classes led by ski resort chefs. Take a break from quarantine, and let the beauty of a mountain summer enfold you. (SR)
- Paul Adams and Jordan Layton
Granary Arts: Vanishing Voices and Inherited Ground
A tumultuous year has helped shine a light on a variety of vital issues, including the ongoing struggles of America's Native peoples, and our unavoidable connection to the natural world. Two new exhibitions at Granary Arts in Ephraim (86 N. Main St., granaryarts.org) bring additional attention to these issues through fascinating artistic methods, now through Sept. 18.
Vanishing Voices, featuring the work of former Utah State faculty member Paul Adams and BYU graduate Jordan Layton, explores the reality of indigenous languages that are at risk of disappearing forever as the last native speakers age. Adams and Layton present photographic portraits of these last known speakers of several critically endangered Native languages ("Marie, The Last Known Speaker of Wukchumni" is pictured). While the languages themselves—and the rich cultural knowledge they contain—are threatened with extinction, the photographers employ a Civil War-era collodion tintype process, representing one of the most permanent photographic printing methods. While the images emphasize a connection to a distant past, they also provide a lasting record that these cultures still matter.
Inherited Ground showcases the creations of Utah State graduate and current BYU MFA student Sara Lynne Lindsay, focused on a topic that doesn't sound particularly glamorous: dirt. More specifically, Lindsay investigates the importance of soil, and what kind of soil we will be leaving to future generations through our practices. Her mixed-media works combine objects from the natural world (seeds, flowers, dirt) with activities from a more domestic sphere, like sewing and cooking. The result investigates a connection between our everyday lives and that which sustains us, but we rarely consider. (SR)
- Hale Center Theater
Hale Centre Theatre: Mary Poppins
If you've been hungry for live theater over the months of pandemic lockdown, options have understandably been few. Sandy-based Hale Centre Theatre (9900 S. Monroe St., hct.org) is welcoming guests back with a wide range of safety measures in place, and a beloved show that promises to bring some magical music—and musical magic—to those who visit.
The story of Mary Poppins—based on P.L. Travers' stories about a no-nonsense British nanny with plenty of tricks in her carpetbag—is certainly best-known thanks to the Academy Award-winning 1964 Disney movie adaptation, which introduced audiences to beloved songs like "A Spoonful of Sugar," "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," "Feed the Birds" and "Chim Chim Cher-ee." In 2002, producer Cameron Mackintosh (Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera) put together a creative team that would move that familiar story to the theatrical stage. While many of the story elements and individual sequences were changed to place greater emphasis on the family drama over fanciful special effects, most of those great Sherman Brothers songs remain, as well as several new compositions by the team of George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, including the charming "Practically Perfect." And there's the delightful opportunity to watch Mary and her umbrella fly over the audience.
Mary Poppins runs July 1-Sept. 5, with tickets ranging from $24-$52. HCT has instituted strict safety guidelines for staff, cast, crew and patrons, including touch-free purchasing, mask requirements, socially-distanced seating, heightened cleaning and contact tracing. Visit the theater website for a complete listing of all measures that have been implemented to facilitate a safe and healthy guest experience. (SR)