Traditional Sanpete festivities back for 2021

The Sanpete County Fair, as seen in this 2019 drone photo, is officially on for Aug. 21-28 this year after being cancelled last year due to COVID-19.

With guarded optimism, Sanpete County appears to be preparing for bright sunny days and a return to a summer full of traditional festivities.

After missing out on most of its biggest summer get-togethers last year while combating the COVID doldrums, the Scandinavian Heritage Festival, the Rat Fink Reunion, Lambs Days, the July 24th Celebration in Fairview and the Sanpete County Fair are all, tentatively, planning on returning to normal. Other celebrations on Independence Day and Pioneer Day are also being planned in many communities as well.

To be sure, COVID protocols will still rule the day and many events will be spread out to accommodate social distancing, said Michael Patton, Ephraim recreation director.

But many of things that make summer, summer, like food, entertainment, car shows, art booths, crafts, animals, pageants and rodeos are all planning a comeback in Sanpete County.

Everyone is keeping their fingers crossed that immunizations go smoothly, herd immunity kicks in and that COVID goes away. In the meantime, event organizers are just starting to plan their itineraries and line up funding.

Scandinavian Festival

The three-day event to show off Scandinavian Heritage held over Memorial Day in Ephraim is going to return, if possible, to its customary schedule, with most of the food, entertainment, contests, booths, parade and fireworks planned for Friday, May 28 and Saturday, May 29, Patton said.

As in the past, there will likely be a car show, quilt show, bike race and storytelling. Then on Monday, May 31, there will be the usual Memorial Day service at the cemetery and the half-marathon down Ephraim Canyon.

“We are in the very beginning of organizing the festival and trying to iron out the kinks,” Patton said. Nothing is finalized yet, he said.

The organizers will be lining up entertainment and vendors in the next few week. “We will be having it for sure,” he said. “But all the details are pending.”

Ephraim will be working with the health department on the safety protocols, so some events may look different than in the past, he said. “Things might be spread out a little bit more.” The city has already budgeted funds for the event.

Sanpete County Fair

The Sanpete County Fair, which normally runs in the last week in August, was cancelled last year due to COVID and economic challenges. Board co-chairpersons Mike and Amanda Bennett from Mayfield said the 2021 fair and rodeo is back on and being planned for Aug. 21-28; it will be held at the county fairgrounds, 600 N. Main Street in Manti.

The fair organizers will be meeting with the Sanpete County Commissioners in the next couple of weeks to discuss funding and logistics. The details and scheduling still need to be worked out, Mike said.

The theme of the 2021 fair is going to be “Fun for the Whole Herd,” said Amanda. This was the theme of the 2020 fair, but it was never used, she said.

Holding the fair will be nice because it might bring a little normalcy back to people’s lives, she said.

Amanda said the fair is going to move forward as close as possible to a typical year, with all the activities on the docket; however, some events may need to be modified, she said.

“We are excited to bring it back,” she said. People missed not having the fair last year and they can’t wait for this year’s fair, she said.

Rat Fink Reunion

The annual Rat Fink Reunion to raise money for Manti and honor the famous hot rod artist Ed “Big Daddy” Roth went virtual last year because of COVID.

But this year at the 19th Annual Reunion on June 3-5 people are looking forward to seeing each other face to face, said Ilene Roth, Ed’s widow and organizer of the reunion as well as the owner of the Rat Fink Museum in Manti.

“We loved the ‘Virtual Reunion’ but everyone is looking forward to coming to Manti and celebrating together.

Quite fittingly, “Power of Friendship” is the reunion theme, she said. Special guests Dennis Gage from My Classic Car TV show will be on hand. Bob Fryz is bringing “Sh Boom” for exhibitions on all three days and the amazing car builder Gene Winfield is planning on being there as well.

Artists will be painting all three days for your enjoyment; there is a 5K Fun Run scheduled for Friday 7 p.m. and the car show on Saturday at 8 a.m.

“We have special reveals planned for Thursday and Friday!” Ilene said. “Last year’s virtual reunion was amazing,” she said. “We had over 200 cars participate, from 28 states and 3 countries. We also uploaded over 68 videos covering the reunion scheduled events including several artist interviews. They can still be found on Facebook at Rat Fink-Ed Big Daddy Roth. We had around 60 artists participate. Their art from awards and auction pieces were placed on mugs that are on display in the Rat Fink Museum.”

“Big Daddy” passed away in 2001 and Ilene started the Rat Fink Reunion in 2002 to honor Ed’s life and work. He created the edgy hot rod art character know as Rat Fink in 1962 and his entire life he built custom cars from scratch. He was the first guy to put a design on a T-shirt, Ilene said.

Lamb Days

Fountain Green’s annual celebration noted for its famous underground pit cooking of over 30 lambs is back on the schedule, said Eddie Hanson, president of the Lamb Days’ Committee. Scheduled for the weekend of July 16-17 this year, the event typically includes delicious dinners and sandwiches, play, mutton busting, carnival, softball games, fun run and a parade down State Street.

“There might be some modifications this year,” Hanson said, “but we have learned a lot about holding events and we are planning on it.”

Pioneer Days

In Fairview, Councilman Brad Welch, the councilman in charge of celebrations, said Pioneer Days, which run for more than a week and include July 24th, should go forward.

“[It would be] pretty foolish to cancel it at this point,” he told the city council. “At least, this is my recommendation, and then we’ll keep visiting it every month to see the status change.”

COVID-19 vaccinations are expected to be available to all residents by June, and “we’re at the end of July,” Welch said. “At this point, I’d like to leave all of the events on the table…”