What do Father Escalante and Butch Cassidy have in common? Both apparently passed through what is now Provo at some point in time, and they might be back next year.
Or at least actors portraying the priest and the outlaw would be on hand for one of myriad activities proposed for Provo's sesquicentennial next year.It's never too soon to plan a party that will last all year and attempt to cover 150 years of history.
The Provo Sesquicentennial Committee presented a suggested list of events to the City Council this week. It also asked the city for $40,000 to supplement another $48,000 it intends to obtain through grants and sponsorships for the celebration.
"We're trying to be really, really conservative," said Sandi Henderson, committee co-chairwoman.
The committee has several goals in mind, including involving as many residents as possible, establishing Provo as a destination location and creating a lasting legacy.
Organizers want to retrace the steps of the 28 families and five men Brigham Young sent to settle the area in 1849 with a re-enactment of the wagon train next April. Officials said they expect many people, especially those who missed the Mormon pioneer trek last summer, to participate.
The city has retained a husband-wife team to find the precise location of the old Fort Utah settlement. Although there's a Fort Utah Park in west Provo, Mayor Lewis Billings said no one knows for sure where the original fort was. An archaeological dig will commence once the site is pinpointed, he said.
From April through July, the committee wants to hold a weekly event called Historic Provo Live. Downtown would come alive every Saturday with shop owners in period dress and actors playing figures from the past such as Father Escalante. There also would be blacksmithing, candle-making and quilting demonstrations in a pioneer village and museum, Henderson said.
Brent Ashworth, committee co-chairman, said organizers are trying to gather diaries, journals and scrapbooks, as well as oral histories, to create a legacy of Provo. He suggested the city name an official historian to write a definitive history of the city. The collection should be placed in the city library planned for the old Brigham Young Academy, he said.
Other proposed events include a nondenominational fireside, an art train from the Smithsonian Institute, a neighborhood "Make a Difference Day," an American Indian powwow and a dinner/dance complete with authentic pioneer finery and carriage rides. America's Freedom Festival at Provo also would incorporate the city's sesquicentennial into its theme for 1999. Council Chairman Greg Hudnall likes the committee's proposals but wants to ensure things such as the dinner/dance, which is projected to cost $15 per person, aren't expensive. He acknowledged the city might have to kick in more money to offset some charges.
"We are trying to do this at minimal cost," said Carol Walker.
Other than the dinner, all events and activities would be free of charge, according to the committee.