General Conference program documents history of pageant

The logo title of local newsman Sam Penrod’s documentary about the history of the Manti Pageant is “50 years of Miracles”.


General Conference program documents history of pageant

KSL News reporter from Manti, Sam Penrod, showcases ‘big part of growing up here’


Sept. 27, 2017


SALT LAKE CITY—A 30-minute program detailing the 50-year history of the Mormon Miracle Pageant will be broadcast on KSL-TV this Saturday between sessions of LDS General Conference.

“Fifty Years of Miracles” was produced by Sam Penrod of the KSL news staff over the past four months.

Penrod, who grew up in Manti, says putting together the program has been a highlight of his 20-year career at KSL.

“Like everyone else in these local communities will tell you, the pageant is a big part of growing up here,” Penrod says. “I have always wanted to showcase the great volunteer effort that is the result of individuals willing to get involved in some way or another.”

The program not only focuses on the history and various volunteer assignments, such as the chair setup and turkey dinners, but also takes viewers behind the scenes of the production.

“It was a challenge to tell 50 years of history, from the humble beginnings of a small-town performance in 1967, to the first-class production it is today. I quickly realized that I could have produced a full-length documentary with all of the great content we gathered in Manti during the pageant in June.”

While the program does not focus on the full story line of the pageant, it does highlight several scenes, including Joseph Smith’s first vision, Samuel the Lamanite on the wall and the Angel Moroni on the temple.

The program includes interviews with volunteers, ranging from people who have been involved with the pageant from the beginning to those who participated for the first time in 2017.

“I know many people throughout the state have been to Manti at some point over the years to see the pageant. They may have enjoyed the turkey dinners and then spent a couple of hours on the temple grounds watching the pageant, only to leave Manti without realizing everything that goes on because of the many people in the Sanpete Valley who are willing to accept assignments to help year after year. To me, that is the real story of the pageant,” Penrod says.

Historic photographs, old film footage and interview clips from the KSL archives are also used in the program.

Penrod hopes he has been able to capture what the pageant means to people who participate in it and how it has blessed their lives.

“I hope in the end, everyone who sees the program will realize that it takes the effort of many individuals, who serve in one way or another, for the pageant to be a reality each year, and that anyone who has ever served in the pageant will feel that their efforts have been recognized collectively in this KSL conference special,” he says.

The program “50 Years of Miracles” will be aired Saturday at noon on KSL-5. It will also be available on http://www.ksl.com and the new KSL app for mobile devices and streaming boxes. Visit facebook.com/sampenrod.ksl/ for a video preview.


A 1987 interview with Macksene Rux, who directed the Mormon Miracle Pageant for 19 years, is included in a KSL-TV program, “50 years of Miracles, which airs Saturday at noon.

A shot from the KSL program, “50 Years of Miracles,” shows the light tower used at Mormon Miracle pageants in silhouette.