The summer of 2020 could go down in history as “the summer that never was.”
When the pandemic hit Utah in the spring, it set off a domino effect of event cancellations when people are usually out doing stuff. But now it’s 2021, more people are getting vaccinated every day, and many organizers are looking to get their festivals, parades and conventions back on the summer schedule.
Here is a rundown of several popular summer events in Utah and where they stand now. Keep in mind that if COVID-19 cases surge again, these plans could be thrown out the window, and they’re likely to morph and change in the weeks and months before they’re scheduled to happen.
But hey, if things go our way, the summer of 2021 is looking pretty eventful.
Living Traditions Festival: On, but different.
One of the first Salt Lake City cultural events to be canceled due to COVID-19 in 2020, the Living Traditions Festival is scheduled for May. But instead of the familiar format of a weekend packed with live performances, food and craft vendors, this year’s celebration of Utah’s diversity will be a series of in-person and virtual events spread out between May 15 and June 26, held at several venues throughout the city.
For more information, visit SaltLakeArts.org.
Utah Pride Festival & Parade: Off. But instead ...
When COVID-19 shut down the 2020 Utah Pride Festival and parade, the Utah Pride Center put on a “road rally” in October, inviting the LGBTQ community and allies to decorate their cars and come “drag Main.”
This year, the festival and parade won’t be happening either, but organizers have more pandemic-friendly ideas. For 2021, the Utah Pride Center is putting on a weeklong Pride celebration, June 1-7, with plans for such events as a fireworks display and a socially distanced march from the Utah Capitol to Liberty Park, with part of the route along Harvey Milk Boulevard.
An interactive outdoor “story garden” will be set up at Washington Square, where attendees (with masks) can learn about Utah’s LGBTQ history, the Stonewall riots, transgender identities and more. Tickets to walk through the exhibit will be for specific days and times, with a limited number of people allowed in at once. For more information, visit utahpridecenter.org.
Utah Shakespeare Festival: On.
The 2021 Utah Shakespeare Festival performance schedule looks like it will give theater lovers the opportunity to see the plays from 2020′s canceled season. Holdovers that stand to get a second chance this year include William Shakespeare’s “Pericles,” which will kick off the festival June 24, as well as “Richard III,” “The Comedy of Errors” and “Cymbeline.”
Three productions planned for this year that weren’t on last year’s lineup are “Ragtime,” “Intimate Apparel” and “The Comedy of Terrors.”
Days of ’47 Parade: Maybe?
Work is already underway for the 2021 Days of ’47 Parade, usually held in July in celebration of Utah’s pioneer history. According to DaysOf47.com, this summer’s parade appears to be scheduled for July 23.
But Greg James, vice president of The Days of ’47 Inc., said that date isn’t set in stone. On May 1, organizers will make the final call on whether the parade will happen this year, he said in an email.
“So far, things are looking better, and we are planning like we are going to do everything,” James said, adding, “but it all depends.”
James explained that the slate of events held around Pioneer Day on July 24, especially the parade and the rodeo, “will depend on the COVID conditions at the time,” and will “require cooperation from government agencies.”
Organizers of FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention are “very optimistic” that the annual gathering of fantasy and science fiction fandoms will indeed happen this year, founder Dan Farr said in an email.
Set for Sept. 16-18 at the Salt Palace Convention Center, 2021′s FanX comes after 2020′s event was postponed due to rising cases of the coronavirus.
But if Gov. Spencer Cox really does get to put his mask into a firework on July 4, “we will be looking great for our event,” Farr says. According to the FanX website, tickets for 2020′s canceled event will be automatically transferred to the 2021 convention.
So far, only a few actors are scheduled to appear this year, including Henry Thomas (”E.T.” and “The Haunting of Hill House”) and Alan Ritchson (”Titans,” “Smallville” and more). Specific information about events, like the cosplay contest and celebrity photo ops, has yet to be posted online.
As far as health precautions go, attendees can expect requirements for masks, social distancing and sanitizing. “We want people prepared for the highest level of COVID safety practices, but hopefully we will not need to enact all of them,” Farr said.
Twilight Concert Series: ?
Organizers of the annual concert series usually held throughout the summer in downtown Salt Lake City are crossing their fingers for a fall event, but no band lineup has been released yet.
“We’ll be closely monitoring the health guidelines in our community and keeping the public safety of our touring musicians and fans in mind as we move forward with our plans,” said Felicia Baca, executive director Salt Lake City Arts Council, in an email.
Utah Arts Festival: On, but pushed to August.
Details are being finalized for the 2021 event, but what we do know is that a scaled-down version of the Utah Arts Festival (usually held in June) is scheduled for Aug. 27-29.
Typically, the Utah Arts Festival is a sprawling landscape of visual art and live performances. But to cut down on the potential spread of COVID-19, organizers are planning on a “smaller footprint,” with a limited number of artists booths, a spokesperson said in an email. Hands-on activities, like the Children’s Art Yard, will likely be reconfigured for safety.
“We’re excited to get back to doing what we do best and safely welcoming the public to celebrate art and support the work of artists, many of whom have been hit hard over the last year,” said Aimee Dunsmore, festival executive director, in a news release.
And for those who are still feeling iffy about attending a live event, a virtual festival experience with an online artist marketplace is in the works.
For more information, visit UAF.org.
Craft Lake City DIY Festival: On.
If you’re looking to peruse a huge variety of Utah-made artwork, clothing, body care products, jewelry, packaged food items, stationery and other crafts, the annual Craft Lake City DIY Festival is scheduled for Aug. 13-15 at the Utah State Fairpark.
And if you’re a local maker looking to sell your creations, or a junk picker wanting to peddle some vintage knickknacks, vendor applications are open until April 8.
The DIY Festival also features live performances, food trucks, workshops and STEM exhibitors. Craft Lake City “will be taking careful precautions to create a safe environment for makers and attendees based on governmental COVID-19 guidelines,” the organization says on its website.
But if necessary, organizers will pivot to a virtual format. For more information, visit CraftLakeCity.com.
Red Butte Concert Series: ?
No word yet on whether the summer Red Butte Concert Series will happen this year, but organizers are “looking forward to resuming the popular outdoor concert series as soon as it is safe to do so,” according to RedButteGarden.org. For updates, visit @redbuttegarden on Twitter.
Utah State Fair: On.
Fans of deep-fried Oreos and dizzying Tilt-A-Whirl rides, take heart: The Utah State Fair is scheduled for Sept. 9-19 at the Utah State Fairpark. No further details are online yet, so watch for updates at UtahStateFair.com and the fair’s Facebook page.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade: On ... in September.
As in 2020, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade didn’t happen in March this year due to COVID-19. However, the Hibernian Society of Utah plans to put on the parade Sept. 25, the halfway mark in the lead-up to St. Patrick’s Day 2022.
However, parade organizers are “monitoring the situation” and will reevaluate if anything changes, said Sean Clark of the Hibernian Society said in an email.