When one takes the off-ramp into Cedar City, they are met with a cute little sign that says: Welcome to Festival City! Festival City, indeed. There are all sort of quirky celebrations that take place during the summer, including (but not limited to) the sheep parade, UFO festival, and Renaissance Fair. I once heard someone say that the reason why Cedar City has so many strange festivals and celebrations is to make up for the lack of anything else to do. Before you dismiss Cedar City as some tiny, backwater town, I will let you know that Cedar does have the Utah Shakespeare Festival, and for us poorer folks who can’t afford tickets there is always the bowling alley.
Alright, so maybe I can see where my friend was coming from.
Not everything is as unique as marching a few hundred sheep down Main Street while people watch and cheer (even as a local, this celebrations confuses me), but there are a few “normal” events that take place in good ol’ Cedar! For example, the Utah Summer Games.
Even as someone whose eyes glaze over at the mention of any sports-related term, I find the Games to be an exciting time of year. The majority of the events take place during a few weeks in summer, and during those weeks our sleepy little college town has some life breathed back into it.
There are a few downsides, of course. Like the fact that every single open field will be crawling with people and lawn chairs and plastic water bottles from all over the state. My house is located between some of these fields, and I usually spend the season dealing with cars parked on both sides of our narrow roads and dodging the sketchy drivers from up north. Do traffic lights exist in the Salt Lake area? Because most people who are from there seem to have no problem ignoring the ones down here.
Utah’s infamous bad drivers aside, it’s fun seeing some new faces. Not that I see much of these new faces because I don’t actually attend any of these gaming events. No, the most exciting part of the Games for me is the opening ceremonies, which were held this last Thursday.
The opening ceremonies take place at the university’s football stadium and include a few hours of entertainment and music. In my twenty years, I’ve never set foot in the stadium during the ceremonies, although I’ve wanted to. When I was little it was because my parents didn’t take us, and in my older years it’s because my friends have had other plans or commitments and I’m not exactly someone who likes to show up to an event alone. One day I’ll make it there, but until then I’ve developed some good memories with family.
In my earlier years my entire extended family would get together and watch the fireworks. I remember racing leaves with my cousins in the gutter, and eating so much popcorn that I got sick.
One year, as we watched the fireworks, a stray piece of firework shrapnel landed on one of my uncles (who happened to be sitting close to me) and caught his shirt on fire. Everyone was okay, but I think that incident is what triggered my fear of fireworks. I love watching them, but even now my body has to be completely covered with a blanket just in case a flaming piece of cardboard decides to rain from the sky and set me aflame.
These past few years I’ve watched the fireworks with just my parents, siblings, and grandma. Despite less people to talk to, it’s still just as fun. There’s enough popcorn and glow stick sword battles or frisbee games to keep us occupied until the fireworks start. We sit on a field that puts us even closer to the fireworks than the football stadium, and even though I don’t like to be in close proximity to fireworks, I’ve started to realize that this location is probably one of the best. It’s far enough away that we aren’t being showered in sparks or smoke, but close enough that the fireworks seem to be exploding right above our heads.
A lot of people love the Fourth of July fireworks or those on the 24th of July (Utah’s christened “Pioneer Day”), but in my book, the Summer Games fireworks gets the gold medal every time.