Hughes Brothers
The Hughes Brothers are popular performers in Branson, Mo.

With five brothers (Marty, Jason, Adam, Ryan and Andy), five wives (Cindy, Mara, Vikki, Carina and Becky) and 24 children of all ages, the Hughes Brothers have come to be known in Branson, Mo., as "the world's largest performing family."

Six days a week for the past 13 years, they have performed in Branson and have won numerous accolades for both the "good, clean fun" of their music and for "touching emotions with their love of family, God and country."

They will be bringing both those aspects of entertainment to Cedar City next week at their American Family Fest.

A lot of events are promoted as "family friendly," but the American Family Fest is the "only event completely dedicated to celebrating the family," says family matriarch Lena Hughes, who came up with the idea for the festival.

Last year Cedar City Mayor Gerald Sherratt invited the Hughes Brothers to perform at the annual Summer Games.

"We were so inspired by the festival atmosphere of the city and had such a good time," said Lena Hughes. "But when they wanted us to come back this year, the light bulb went off in my head. We needed a bigger reason for people to come to Cedar City than just the Hughes Brothers. Why not create a festival that totally celebrated families?"

Family is at the core of everything they do, says Lena Hughes. "We have a big family and we all play together and work together."

But that's a new idea for many of the people who come to their show in Branson. They hear so many comments, she says, from people "who are inspired by what families can do."

The folks in Cedar City liked the idea. "It's grown so much bigger than it looked on paper," says Lena Hughes.

The festival will run from June 2-7 and will feature six days of "activities centered around and designed to celebrate and strengthen families."

Among the happenings will be favorite American family sport competitions, the most unusual family business contest, the fun family photo contest, the outrageous dog contest, a chili cookoff, a red wagon rally, bumbling bull's-eye, the commercial family game and other activities. There will be educational family workshops and family history events. And there will be lots of awards, prizes and mystery gift drawings.

There will also be practically nonstop musical entertainment. The Hughes Brothers and the World's Largest Performing Family will be presenting concerts each evening. Other entertainers include Kerry Christensen, master yodeler and character voice for Disney's "Home on the Range"; A.J. Split River and Pam Wings-On-Her-Feet, performing on the Indian flute and piano; and a variety of other local musicians.

There will be "Movies Under the Stars" at Main Street Park each night, shown on a 30-foot movie screen. And there will be vendors offering food and family services, including family photo ops, hair braiding, shaves and 175 feet of Bouncy Houses.

There is a charge for the Hughes Brothers concert — $26 for adults, $13 for children — but all other activities are free.

"We think it could be a great opportunity for families, for reunions, for vacations. It's a beautiful area," says Lena Hughes.

The Hughes Brothers grew up in Taylorsville, so they love coming back to Utah, she says. But Branson has been a great experience.

"We learned early on that being there was not totally about selling tickets. People want to know more about our family and how it works together so well," Lena Hughes says. "We have learned a lot about patience, respect for each other and support of each other. They want to know about our beliefs and values."

Families aren't always able to do things together, she says. "Everyone's so busy. But here's a chance to do something that's fun, uplifting, educational and gives you a chance to rub shoulders with other families. It's fun for our family, too. It's a change of scenery. We do some hiking. We love coming here."

If you go

What: American Family Fest; Hughes Brothers concerts

Where: Heritage Convention Complex, Main Street Park, Cedar City

When: June 2-7

How much: concert is $26, adults; $13, children; festival activities are free

Info: www.americanfamilyfest.org


E-mail: carma@desnews.com