15 Summer fun ideas in Sanpete
By Suzanne Dean
“Mom, what can I do?”
It’s a question often posed by bored children sitting at home during summer vacation. But we have some answers—15 answers to be specific.
The activities described below require some parental commitment. But the physical, social and cognitive benefits for your children, and perhaps even for you, are well worth your time and planning.
The website Livestrong. com, which focuses on family and children’s health, says, “Children learn about different professions, ideas and opportunities when they travel outside their neighborhoods. A field trip can awaken the desire in a child to try new things and pursue previously unconsidered dreams. Field trips can introduce children to job opportunities and spark new interests and passions.”
Here’s the list, from easiest, cheapest and least time consuming to most involved:
1. Join the summer reading program at your nearest library. Most or all of our Sanpete County libraries are following the theme, “A Universe of Stories,” put out by the national Collaborative Summer Library Program. The program emphasizes space travel, engineering and other science topics. Typically, kids sign up at the library, check out and read books, report back to their librarians weekly on number of minutes they have read, and participate in various story times and parties over the course of the summer.
2. Go to a movie at the Casino Star Theatre in Gunnison. The restored theater is an under-appreciated resource here in the county. You don’t need to research the movies— they’re all family friendly. Show times are 7 p.m. on weeknights, and 4:30 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9:20 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets are $5, with discounts sometimes available.
3. Do service for a neighbor. Identify an elderly person, single mom, or anyone for that matter. Or call your nearest care center. Have the kids do yard work, invite other children to your house to give their mom a break, make food and take it to someone, make a card and take it to the person, or simply visit. The goal is to teach your children the ethic of serving others.
4. Drive up to Lake Hills Campground (colloquially called “Community Campground”) 5 miles up Ephraim Canyon. There’s an absolutely lovely lake (actually a reservoir) with a trail around it. Even with kids, the hike takes about 30 minutes.
5. Take the kids to the Fairview Pioneer Parade on July 24. We don’t have anything on the scale of the Days of ’47 parade in downtown Salt Lake City. But the crowd size, number of entries and amount of candy thrown is pretty impressive. Join other families who dress up as pioneers and bring bags for the candy. The parade starts at 11 a.m., but get there an hour early to park and walk from your parking space to State Street.
6. Attend a city council meeting. Go to your town’s website to get the date and time of the next meeting. Explain to your children that the people at the council table were elected to run the town. Explain what an election is. Tell your children that the mayor and council members are the people who take care of the water system, streets and cemetery. You don’t need to stay for the whole meeting, but you can stay through the prayer, pledge of allegiance and perhaps the first 30 minutes to 1 hour.
7. Visit Clarion, the ghost town settlement in the Gunnison Valley, and the Gunnison Heritage Plaza with kiosks about Clarion. Go to 100 South in Gunnison, turn west and continue to the site. Clarion is where 200 Jewish families, mostly from New York and Philadelphia, tried to set up an agricultural commune in 1911. Their crops failed, and by 1916, the settlement had been abandoned. But two graves with markers remain. Talk to the kids about the Jewish religion and the persecutions Jewish people have been through in history. Read the Wikipedia article about Clarion or print out an article about the settlement from http://www.sanpetecounty.org. Go back to Gunnison to the square with the big clock tower on Main and Center Streets and read the information on the kiosks.
8. Visit Snow College. Take the kids to Huntsman Library and show them where the college students study. Take them to see a classroom. Talk to them about what college is, what they need to do to get into college and how going to college will benefit them in the future. Then take them into the new Graham Science Building. Just inside on the first floor are glass cases containing science related exhibits. Finally, take them to a free show in the new planetarium. Go to http://www.snow.edu and enter “planetarium” in the search bar. That takes you to the planetarium webpage, where you can click an icon to reserve tickets.
9. Take advantage of Palisade State Park. To get there, take U.S. 89 to the north end of Sterling. Turn left on the only paved road. (There are signs for the park on both the northbound and southbound sides of the U.S. 89.) The park entrance is 2 miles up from the highway. What you do at the park is going to depend on how much time you have. The park features a good-sized reservoir with a trail about 1.5 miles long around it. There’s also a playground with swings and slides. The entry fee is $10 per car for up to eight people. During the summer, paddleboats, paddleboards, canoes and kayaks are available for rent from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days per week. Most prices are $10 to $15 per hour, with discounts if you keep the boat for four hours or for all day. Camping with your own RV is $25 or $30 per night for a regular spot with hookups. The park also has 10 cabins and four “whitewall” tents, all with beds and other furnishings. Some of the cabins have bathrooms and kitchens. Cost range from $40 to $100 per night.
10. Take a tour of historic markers posted throughout the county by the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. Once again, this adventure can take as much or little time as you desire. The DUP website list 27 markers in Sanpete County. There are others just outside the county. You might start in Salt Creek Canyon with the marker honoring the first pioneers who entered the valley in 1847. There’s a marker on 100 South and State Street in Wales for the first coal mine in Utah. There’s a marker on Main and State in Mt. Pleasant that talks about the Mt. Pleasant Fort. There’s a marker at 54 S. Main St. in Ephraim talking about an Indian massacre of early settlers. And there’s a marker in the Sterling Cemetery honoring a group called the Pettyville pioneers. Just enter “Daughters of the Utah Pioneers historic markers” in your browser to find the complete list.
11. Visit the Fairview Museum. It’s located at 84 N. 100 East in Fairview. The best-known exhibit is the multi-story-tall mammoth. The mammoth was one of the largest creature to ever walk on earth. The replica in the museum was made from casts of real bones found in Huntington Lake in 1988. The museum also has sculptures by the famous sculptor Avard Fairbanks and a collection of seashells, to name just a few of the highlights. Kids can pick up a sheet of things go look for and go on a “treasure hunt.” If they find everything on the list, they get a prize. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free, but there is a suggested donation of $1 per person or $5 per family.
12. Participate in the sand castle building competition at Yuba State Park on Saturday, July 13. Yuba State Park is on S.R. 28, 16 miles north of Gunnison. The sand castle competition starts at 1 p.m. at the North Beach. Registration starts at noon. The entry fees are $5 for individuals and $10 for teams. There are categories for children, adults and teams. Prizes are awarded to the top five sand castles in each category. Go to http://www.sanpetecounty. com and click “Events” for contact information and a photo of an amazing sand castle built last year.
13. Take a day or an afternoon to learn about the Mormon pioneers. Go to the replica dugout on 400 North near 300 East in Manti to see the kind of housing the settlers lived in their first winter in the Sanpete Valley. Then go to the Patten House Museum on 300 N. 100 West to see how the pioneers lived after they had been here a few years. The house has lots of original artifacts. To this day, it has never had electricity. The Patten House is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day of the Mormon Miracle Pageant and all day on the 24th of July. On other days, call Ruby Stull at 340-0024 or Darlene Blackham at 8510022 to arrange a tour. If time permits, go on up to the Relic Home Museum and blacksmith shop at 150 S. State in Mt. Pleasant. According to the city website, the facility is open Mondays and Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It wouldn’t hurt to verify those hours by calling city hall at 462-2456. The Relic Home has lots of pioneer-era photos, family histories and information about historic homes in Mt. Pleasant.
14. Take the family to the bluegrass and folk festival in Spring City. This laid-back event will be Friday and Saturday, Aug. 2-3, in the Spring City park at about 50 S. 100 East. Spread out your blanket or bring your lawn chairs to enjoy the music. There will also be food, crafts and a car show.
15. Join in the Manti Mountain ATV Run. A series of beautiful ATV rides and great meals will take place Thursday night, Aug. 15 through Saturday, Aug. 17 in the Manti Mountains. Local guides provide an extensive tour of the Arapeen trail system on the eastern spine of the valley. The fee is $50 per rider, which includes two continental breakfasts, two lunches and a final banquet. You need your own ATVs, but rentals are available. Call Manti City at 835-2401 for information.