LOGAN — Not everyone in Cache County likes the LDS Church's decision to stage Clarkston's Martin Harris Pageant every other year instead of every year.

The change will reduce the number of tourists and tourist dollars the pageant lures to the area, said Julie Hollist, director of the Cache Valley Visitors Bureau.

"We're certainly disappointed to see it cut back to every other year," Hollist said. "It draws tour buses full of people from other regions."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been staging the pageant at Clarkston's amphitheater for more than 20 years. But the LDS Church decided the annual pageant was too taxing on the volunteers, church spokesman Rob Howell said.

"This will relieve any burdens of an annual production on the local members who put this on," Howell said.

Instead of dampening enthusiasm for the pageant, Howell said, the new schedule might increase anticipation. But pageant committee President Donald Jeppesen said staging the pageant annually keeps volunteers enthused.

"I think, actually, it will be harder to put it on every other year," Jeppesen said. "It's easier on an annual basis to keep motivation up."

Martin Harris was one of three people to witness the existence of golden plates from which LDS Church founder Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon. The pageant, which musically re-enacts events from the church's early years, has a cast of more than 120 and enlists the help of about 300 volunteers.

The production runs for 11 nights in August and attracts 22,000 to 25,000 people. Clarkston Mayor Boyd Pugmire said the pageant draws more people than any other event in Cache Valley.

Pugmire said the church leases the amphitheater and the adjacent cemetery where Martin Harris is buried to stage the pageant. The town also makes money on nightly barbecues during the event, he said.

He said the new schedule might cut into the small town's coffers. Although the city will miss the revenues, Pugmire said, Howell might be right about the volunteers needing a rest.

"There are a lot of people who sacrifice their time," he said. "So it might be nice to have that break."

In conjunction with the decision on the Martin Harris Pageant, the church also decided to switch the Castle Valley Pageant from yearly to every other year. The Castle Dale pageant recounts LDS pioneers settling in Castle Valley.

The Castle Valley Pageant will be held on even-numbered years, and the Martin Harris Pageant on odd-numbered years. So the Martin Harris Pageant will not be held this year but is scheduled to resume in 2009.


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