Friday, June 18, 2021

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What to Do This Father’s Day (Without Your Dad)

Boating on flaming forge photo courtesy Try river rafting without dad on the Green River this Father's Day (photo Utah Office of Tourism)

It’s going to be 100 degrees again this weekend, and the last thing anyone wants to do is subject themselves to the heat of the day and heat of the grill under the judgemental eye of their fathers. Instead, ditch the Father’s Day barbeque and beat the heat with one (or more) of the ideas below. “Hey, wait a minute!” some of you might say. “My dad is a cool dad!” First off, thanks for rubbing it in. Secondly, why did you click on the headline if that is really the case? Whatever. I guess you can do any of these things with your dad as well if you really want to. 

Swimming holes

Seeing my dad shirtless in swim trunks is not something I’m particularly keen on doing this Father’s Day. But a cool, refreshing swim might be the exact thing to abate our summer suffering. If you’re on the north end of the Wasatch Front, there are outdoor, indoor and splash swimming pools at the Kearns Oquirrh Park Fitness Center. Down on the southern end of the Wasatch, there’s Provo Beach’s Flowrider, an indoor wave machine that pumps water under your feet to simulate surfing (or the closest thing you’re going to get in a landlocked state). If you will get a sort of sick satisfaction from seeing your dad wipe out, smashing his face into 30,000 gallons of rushing water, bring him along. 

Watering holes

Many all-American dads wouldn’t be caught dead drinking high-end cocktails, especially if it comes in pink. Their loss. A Frosé is a cocktail made to challenge toxic masculinity, typically made from frozen rosé wine and strawberries. Lake Effect in Salt Lake City has a version on their cocktail menu that includes Beehive Jack Rabbit Gin. For a more “macho” frozen cocktail, there’s always the frozen margarita (check out Salt Lake’s list of some of the best margaritas around), but, beware, pops might insist on tagging along for that one.   

On the water

Try river rafting without dad on the Green River this Father's Day (photo Utah Office of Tourism)
Try river rafting without Dad on the Green River this Father’s Day (photo courtesy Utah Office of Tourism)

We’re back to avoiding a shirtless dad in swim trunks but with the added embarrassment of his driving as poorly on the water as he does on the road. For boating and watersports, you really can’t go wrong with any number of Utah’s State Parks. Jordanelle and Deer Creek Reservoirs are local favorites, so you might have more elbow room at Echo State Park in Summit County. It was established in just 2018 but has a history of providing a solid place for camping, boating and fishing. If you’re headed out east, keep going until you hit Flaming Gorge Reservoir, where you can also raft sections of the Green River. 

Winter in Summer

fly down an Olympic ski jump on an inner tube solo at the Utah Olympic Park. (photo courtesy Utah Office of Tourism)
This Father’s Day, fly down an Olympic ski jump on an inner tube solo at the Utah Olympic Park. (photo courtesy Utah Office of Tourism)

While it was built for the 2002 Winter Olympics, the Utah Olympic Park is a helluva time in the summer as well. There’s the alpine slide, ropes course and the chance to hurl yourself bodily down an Olympic ski jump on an inner tube. Definitely don’t bring dad. Another image we will never want seared into our retinas is that of dad’s combover waving in the breeze as he braves the zipline. Park City Mountain Resort has similar outdoor activities happening throughout the summer season, including the opportunity to cool down on the Mountain Coaster.

Cool cool caves

Caves are cool. They’re also cool (there’s a dad joke for you). While the trail to Timpanogos Cave in American Fork Canyon might reach upwards of 100 degrees, temperatures inside the cave average about 45 degrees. Southern Utah is also a great destination for underground exploration with the Mammoth Lava Tubes in the Dixie National Forest, near Duck Creek Village. The caves were formed by cooling lava and water within the last several thousand years, creating more than 2,200 feet of passages and tunnels varying in height from full-standing to belly-crawl. Once again, if you experience schadenfreude from watching your dad heave himself through a tunnel on his gut, might as well bring him. But, I think we all know he (and we) would be much happier this Father’s Day if he was left alone to do what he loves: muttering to himself as he putters around the garage and backyard.

For more activities to do without your dad this summer, check out Utah’s must-shop summer markets and our section on outdoor adventures. The latest issue of Salt Lake magazine also features curated a selection of Cabin Fever Cures.

Road Trip: Colorado

Black Canyon of The Gunnison National Park

My left hand clung desperately to the perimeter rope as I craned my neck keeping my face above the whitewash. The chill of the Arkansas’s churning water hit with a shock even though we’d discussed the possibility of our raft flipping just minutes earlier. Hoisting myself back atop the inflatable craft, I took a gasping string of breaths after gulping down river water.  

3 rafts on the Arkansas River
Rafting the Arkansas River, Adobe Stock

The line was sound, and our paddles were in the water, but it was hopeless with just two paddlers in such a light raft. Our guide from Blazing Adventures (555 E. Durant Ave., Aspen, 970-923-4544) had hinted at the futility of taking on the meaty line through Brown’s Canyon at high water, and I got the sense he was secretly looking forward to tossing me in the drink. We’d worked together as raft guides in the Northeast after graduating college and I’d gone soft sitting behind a computer. But the excitement was exactly what we’d signed up for—whitewater’s in the name, after all—and I was secretly grateful the sudden swim had cut through my foggy head from the prior evening out on the town. 

Burning the candle at both ends is part and parcel of being in Aspen. Early morning wakeups for multi-sport days in the mountains lead to late nights around town. As mountain towns go, Aspen isn’t exactly quaint, but as a home base to explore the Roaring Fork Valley it isn’t dull. Utahns have a healthy rivalry with our Colorado neighbors, but that comes with genuine respect for the immense landscapes and quirky culture permeating the Centennial State’s mountain communities. Load up the car with as much gear as it can carry and don’t forget to throw the formal western wear. It’s time see if the grass really is greener in the high wild hills of Colorado. 

A Little Place Called Aspen Roaring Fork Valley 

“If we can’t win in Aspen, we can’t win anywhere,” failed Pitkin County Sheriff candidate Hunter S. Thompson told The New York Times in 1970. The Gonzo prophet’s doomed bid for elected office had garnered nearly 46% of the vote, a losing but nevertheless surprisingly robust ration considering one of the campaign’s pillars was changing the town’s name to Fat City to “prevent greedheads, land-rapers and other human jackals from capitalizing on the name ‘Aspen.’” The town, oft regarded as a haven for the ultra-wealthy, has clearly always maintained an iconoclast streak. 

Thriving among the vibe-chasing influencers in mountain-adjacent Balenciaga clothing and cowpoke cosplaying interlopers is a collection of river rats, artists, ski bums, chefs, brewers and distillers. These personalities, frequently relegated to the background behind Aspen’s glossy veneer, are as integral to the town’s character as the eponymous resort’s gondola, the historic mining infrastructure and the hulking edifice looming over the Roaring Fork Valley, Mount Sopris. Freak Power reigns, election results be damned. Whether that means exploring oxygen-depleted heights above treeline in the surrounding Elk Mountains or plumbing the depths of a whiskey glass in a dimly-lit local dive, it’s waiting here for you to carry on the legacy.  

Where to Play

After receiving a good thrashing in rapids of Brown’s Canyon, I thought it best to recuperate in some warmer, more placid waters northwest of town in Glenwood Springs. The mineral pool in Glenwood Hot Springs Pool (415 E. 6th St., Glenwood Springs, 970-945-6571) is the largest in the world, drawing from the 3.5 million gallons of water produced each day by the Yampah spring. For years I’d driven right through Glenwood Springs on the way to and from mountain misadventures. Once I’d “taken the waters” from the 104-degree therapy pool, I realized my mistake. Invigorated, I headed to the spiritual home of Freak Power at the Gonzo Gallery (601 E. Hyman Ave., Aspen, 970-510-0656). Inside is an eclectic collection of gunshot art from “Doctor” Hunter S. Thompson himself as well a selection from his collaborators and compatriots, including political posters produced by activist Thomas W. Benton and artwork by subversive illustrator and Gonzo sidekick Ralph Steadman. The Gonzo Gallery is a fitting tribute to the legacy of these artists, who would delight in the legalized cannabis available throughout the town.

Water fountain on a city street in Downtown Aspen
Downtown Aspen, Photo by Emily Chaplin

Post-Gonzo, it was time to hit the waterway for which the valley is named, the Roaring Fork River. Being the inept fly fisherman I am, I sought out some guidance from the local experts at Elk Mountain Anglers (100 Smuggler Mountain Rd., Aspen, 970-456-6287). A half-day wade fishing trip just minutes from downtown Aspen saw me land a couple of trout that would have certainly evaded my hook had I gone it alone. 

I’d spent quite a lot of time in the waterways dissecting the area, but not much time high in the hills, so I hopped aboard my mountain bike to grind out the Snowmass to Aspen shuttle ride. If you need to rent a bike or get some trail beta, head to Hub of Aspen (616 E. Hyman Ave., Aspen, 970-925-7970). They have a great rental fleet and a wealth of insider info. We left a car at Buttermilk’s Tiehack lot and shuttled to Snowmass to start the 18-mile ride. We shuttled back just in time to catch the Thursday Night Concert Series at Snowmass, kicking back to listen to live tunes with a frosty beverage in hand. 

Where to Eat and Drink

Aspen’s tendency to late nights that make for hazy mornings means it’s prudent to kickstart the day. Head to the Marble Distilling (150 Main St., Carbondale, 970-963-7008) for the best Bloody Mary in the valley, made with vodka from Colorado grains and water. It’ll shake out the cobwebs.

For a more substantial breakfast, there’s no better place than Mawa’s Kitchen (305 Aspen Airport Business Center, Aspen, 970-710-7096). Chef Mawa McQueen serves up delightful twists on traditional brunch fare. The Maine Smoked Salmon Benedict and the Croque Madame are both favorites. 

When it’s time to fuel up midday, head to the Meat and Cheese Restaurant (319 E. Hopkins Ave., Aspen, 970-710-7120). The menu extends far beyond what’s in its name with inspired cuisine merging multiple influences. Try the Bánh Mi and Korean Fried Chicken. 

In the evening, sidle up at the J-Bar (330 E. Main St., Aspen, 970-920-1000) for a Flat Iron Steak and Chevre Cheese Cake. 

Catch last call at The Red Onion (420 E. Cooper Ave., 970-925-9955). The local’s favorite hosts the most eclectic collection of personalities in town, mixed with affordable drinks and delicious fare, including everything from classic Colorado Buffalo Burgers to Pistachio-Panko Chicken Schnitzel. 

Where to Stay 

Hotel Jerome (330 E. Main St., Aspen, 970-920-1000) The historic hotel just steps away from the base of Aspen Mountain has been an institution in town since 1889. Decades before Aspen became an exclusive retreat, through the silver boom and bust, through the Great Depression and the rise of American recreational skiing, the Hotel Jerome hosted all manner of travelers. It’s eccentric, it’s old and it’s luxurious. It’s damn-near perfect. 

Aspen Meadows Resort (845 Meadows Rd., Aspen, 970-925-4240) Nestled in Aspen’s quiet West End, the resort’s 40-acre property is home to both an elegant mid-century lodge and several art galleries. The Resnick Art Gallery features works by Herbert Bayer, while the Paepcke Art Gallery hosts a rotating collection of artwork. Art installations like the serpentine “Stone River” provide an immersive experience unlike at any other hotel in the area. 

St. Moritz Lodge (334 W. Hyman Ave., Aspen, 970-925-3220) With shockingly economical rates for Aspen and flexible lodging options, St. Moritz Lodge is perfect for those who’d rather spend their cash adventuring in the mountains. The classic European-style chalet lodge has standard hotel rooms, condominiums and even private hostel rooms with shared bathrooms for the budget-minded traveler. Topping it all off, St. Moritz Lodge is located within walking distance from the heart of town. 


History to Hot Springs in the Hills

Starting Point: Colorado Springs / Ending Point: Salida 

Stand in awe among the Garden of the Gods and travel west through the Centennial State’s mining history to find hot springs, horseback rides and handcrafted cocktails. 

National Natural Landmark features Sedimentary rock formation in Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods, Adobe Stock

1. Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

The stunning sandstone formations throughout the Garden of the Gods rewired my brain when I first saw them decades ago. The magic still exists for every person who hikes and bikes beneath the Cathedral Valley. 

2. Western Museum of Mining & Industry, Colorado Springs

The insatiable thirst for ore drove settlement and development through much of the Mountain West. The museum digs into that past with interactive, historic exhibitions. 

3. Pikes Peak Cog Railway, Manitou Springs

Topping out on the summit of Pikes Peak at 14,110 feet, the Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway is reopened for 2021 with new trains and a Strub rack-toothed rail system. 

4. Horseback Riding at Elk Mountain Ranch, Buena Vista

Daily trail rides through remote, mountain trails in the Colorado backcountry let you relive the region’s frontier history. Suitable rides are available for all ages and abilities. 

5. Deerhammer Distilling, Buena Vista

Blending traditional distilling processes with creative flavor profiles, Deerhammer is redefining what it means to be a truly independent American whiskey producer. 

6. Mt. Princeton Hot Springs, Nathrop

Soothe those aching muscles and saddle sores with a visit to the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort. Scenic, natural hot springs and larger relaxation pools are the perfect place to kick back in healing, heated waters. 

7. Absolute Bikes, Salida

This full-service bike shop is the gateway to the immense mountain bike trail network at Salida’s doorstep. All the equipment, rentals and local beta you need to shred the local singletrack can be found here. 


San Juan Summer  

Starting Point: Delta / Ending Point: Durango

Sample Colorado’s lesser-known craft beverage from wineries nestled in Delta’s parched landscape. Head south for some high-altitude jams at one of the west’s most beloved music festivals and sign up for the adventure and a taste of a bygone era in Durango. The San Juans are home to the best of Southwestern Colorado. 

1. Stoney Mesa Winery, near Delta

One of Colorado’s oldest wineries, Stoney Mesa has been producing delightful vintages for more than three decades. The area’s mild climate is perfect for producing exquisite wines. 

2. Mesa Winds Farm and Winery, near Delta

In addition to the six acres of land the winery uses to produce grapes, Mesa Winds also grows 14 acres of organic peaches and apples, which they sell on their own and use to produce fruit-infused wine varieties.  

5 musicians perform for a crowd outdoors at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival
Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Photo courtesy Planet Bluegrass/No Coast

3. Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Telluride 

The iconic music festival set in dramatic surroundings returns for the 47th year and runs from June 17-20. This one isn’t to be missed for the banjo enthusiasts out there.

Telluride Village Gondola overlooks the mountains of Telluride
Telluride Village Gondola, Courtesy Visit Telluride

4. Telluride and Mountain Village Gondola, Telluride

This free gondola shuttles people over the 10,500-foot Coonskin Ridge to the base of the resort in just 13 minutes. It’s perfect for bikers, hikers, festival-goers or just those wanting a little aerial scenery. 

5. Bread, Durango

This simply named, iconic, cash-only bakery in Durango has an incredible selection of bread, pastries and sandwiches in a rustic, reimagined warehouse. 

Black steam engine on Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad; Photo by Matt Inden/Miles

6. Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Durango

The historic steam engine runs the line from Durango to Silverton, providing a taste of history with incomparable views of the mountains and canyons of southwestern Colorado. 


Escape to the Elks

Starting Point: Montrose / Ending Point: Crested Butte

The journey from Montrose to Crested Butte is a transitional one. Geologically the terrain transforms from the arid chasm of the Black Canyon to the high peaks and thin air of Crested Butte. Along the way, the vibe evolves from ruggedly hardscrabble western to quirky mountain retreat. Get rolling and find enjoyment in every mile. 

Canyon and rock formations in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Adobe Stock Photo

1. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, near Montrose

The 2,700 foot-deep chasm cutting through Precambrian rock on the Gunnison River receives just 33 minutes of sunlight per day. Visit the park to see the steepest, most dramatic 12-mile stretch.

2. Museum of the Mountain West, Montrose

Home to a collection of historic buildings including log cabins, shops and saloons, the Museum of the Mountain West preserves the living history of the pioneer era’s western expansion across the state of Colorado. 

3. Dillon Pinnacles Hike, Near Sapinero

A moderately difficult out-and-back hike just shy of four miles brings you to the Blue Mesa Reservoir surrounded by wildly eroded volcanic formations, the Dillon Pinnacles. Spectacular views of the distant San Juan peaks are an added bonus. 

4. High Alpine Brewing Company, Gunnison

With a delightful menu of brick-oven pizzas accompanying a wonderful selection of craft beers, like their Green Gate IPA and Sol’s Espresso Stout, High Alpine Brewing Company is a great stop for lunch or dinner. 

5. Gunnison Valley Observatory, Gunnison

A 30-inch reflector telescope lets you peer into deep space through dark skies free of light pollution. This ain’t your run-of-the-mill campfire star gazing. 

Crested Butte, USA - June 21, 2019: Colorado colorful vivid village houses stores shopping downtown in summer with vintage mountain architecture and cars on street
Downtown Crested Butte, Photo by Kristina Blokhin

6. Camp 4 Coffee, Crested Butte

Fuel up for a day of adventure the right way with a caffeinated beverage from the quirky coffee shack right in the middle of town. 

7. Mountain Bike at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Crested Butte

Crested Butte has staked its claim as the birthplace of modern mountain biking. See if your lungs and legs are up to the challenge with endless miles of pristine singletrack in the town’s thin air.  

8. Montanya Distillers, Crested Butte 

Wind things down with some award-winning rum and an eclectically delicious menu of cuisine right on historic Elk Ave. 


Front Range Adventure, Art and Brews

Starting Point: Fort Collins / Ending Point: Denver

Endless plains to the east suddenly jut skyward at the Front Range. More than just a gateway to the mountains, this area is the creative capital of Colorado, brimming with artists, brewers and adventurers. Dive in for full-pint glasses, captivating murals and, of course, a splash of outdoor exploration on Colorado’s Front Range. 

Sippin' Pretty Fruited sour ale can and glass from Odell Brewing Company
Courtesy Odell Brewing Company

1. Odell Brewing Company, Fort Collins

The 20 breweries in Fort Collins produce 70% of Colorado’s craft beer, and it’s hard to do better than Odell Brewing. Stop into the brewery to try their latest, like the Witkist White Grapefruit Ale or a classic like the 90 Schilling Amber Ale. 

Man stands with kayan in Poudre River Whitewater Park
Cache La Poudre River near Fort Collins, Photo by Matt Inden/Miles

2. Kayaking in Poudre Canyon, Fort Collins 

Get your paddle on at the Poudre River Whitewater Park. Whether you’re an expert kayaker or just someone looking for a nice float in a tub, this park just north of Old Town is a unique treat.

3. The Art Hotel, Denver

Explore Denver’s burgeoning art scene from your accommodations at the Art. A curated collection of in-house art transforms your lodging into a rich museum experience, just steps away from the iconic Denver Art Museum

Exterior of Denver Art Museum
Denver Art Museum, Photo by Matt Inden/Miles

4. Denver Art Museum, Denver

The building itself is pretty much a work of art, but the inside boasts 70,000 pieces from around the world and across the centuries. You won’t find a better collection of art between the west coast and Chicago. 

5. Mural Tour by Bike, Denver

The city is decorated throughout with murals. Travel by bike to see expressions of civic pride (“Love This City” by Pat Millbury on W. 7th Ave and Santa Fe Dr) and celebrations of multicultural heritage (“Afro Flower Lady” by Jiacuy Roche at The Stanley Marketplace). 

For more travel ideas, visit and Plan your next summera dventure with our Road Trip: Wyoming feature.

Where to Celebrate Juneteenth in Utah

A Juneteenth celebration in Milwaukee
A Juneteenth celebration in Milwaukee

Let’s be honest: white Americans have a lot of gaps when it comes to Black history. Last summer, as the entire country reckoned with race in America, many white people learned about Juneteenth for the first time. This year, recognition of Juneteenth continues to broaden—the House of Representatives just voted to make it a national holiday.

A sort of second Independence Day, Juneteenth commemorates emancipation from slavery. On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger declared the end of slavery in Texas more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation and weeks after the American Civil War ended. (Texas was so far west that news didn’t travel quickly.) Since then, Juneteenth has spread from Texas-based celebrations to a holiday celebrated more widely by Black people across the U.S.

Here in Utah, there are lots of ways to celebrate Juneteenth while supporting Black artists, businesses and community leaders. 

Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin Quintet Juneteenth Celebration

June 19, 8 p.m., Gallivan Center

This free concert hosted by Excellence in the Community can be enjoyed live at the Gallivan Center or streaming at home. Vocalist Dee-Dee Darby Duffin has been a longtime Utah favorite for her interpretations of jazz, soul and blues standards like “Feeling Good” and “Strange Fruit.” (Plus she’s a playwright and actress too.) 

Juneteenth Festival: Solidarity and Unity

June 19, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Aggie Legacy Fields

Utah State University’s celebration will include a community BBQ and a Unity Kickball Game at 1 p.m. You’ll also be able to sign the petition to make Juneteenth a national holiday. USU is asking participants to park at the Big Blue Terrace or at the University Inn and look for the Juneteenth banner and signs to get to the event.

Juneteenth Freedom Day concert

June 19, 6 p.m., The Complex

The concert is promised to lean heavy on the dance music, featuring Icky Rogers,

The Pho3nix Child, Cherry Thomas and DJ Juggy. There will also be plenty to eat with a handful of food trucks, including Jamaica’s Kitchen, Shrimp Shak and Mas Gorditas.

Juneteenth Summer of Love 

June 19, 1 p.m.–3 p.m., march; 3 p.m.–7 p.m., market; 5 p.m.–9 p.m., block party; Washington Square

Juneteenth Utah, Strength of Shades and POC Market are celebrating Juneteenth with a march, pop-up market and block party. The event will begin with a march, then a market highlighting BIPOC-owned businesses and closes with live performances and music. This is the second celebration from Juneteenth Utah and the theme this year is Summer of Love. 

Sip + Vibe Juneteenth Gala from The Pyramid Company

June 19 at 7 p.m., 8 p.m.-10 p.m. cocktail and appetizers, 11 p.m. – 2 a.m. concert and dance Party; at The Leonardo 

The Gala promises to celebrate the history, tradition and contributions of African-Americans in Utah through art, music and live performances. 

Utah Juneteenth Festival and Father’s Day Tribute

June 19, noon-9 p.m.; June 20, noon-8 p.m.; Ogden Amphitheater

On June 19, Weber University’s Juneteenth festival will have musical performances, featuring national recording artist Young DRO, Kansas City Songbird, Zenobia Smith and many local and regional artists. The Mr. & Miss Juneteenth Scholarship Pageant and Juneteenth Essay Contest winners will also be announced. There is also the promise of a host of other activities for all ages in a safe environment. The June 20 Father’s Day Tribute will feature the 2nd Annual Willie Moore & Billy Mason “Golden Clipper” Barber Battle and, for the first time this year, the “Crowns” Braiding Battle.

Juneteenth: A Celebration of Black Voices

June 20, 7 p.m. at The Clubhouse

Support both Utah’s Black and queer communities at this fundraiser concert hosted by W.A.R. Gathering and sponsored by Utah Pride Center, Project Rainbow and SLUG Magazine. The concert features Shea Freedom, Wynter Storm, Honey and Early Sucessional. Part of the proceeds benefit BIPOC at the Front, which supports climbers of color in Utah, and GenderBands, an Orem-based nonprofit that aids trans people with gender-affirming surgery costs.

Black, Bold and Brilliant Film Screenings

Through June 22, Utah Film Center

Celebrate Juneteenth with a newly restored document of Black history and a celebration of the incomparable Queen of Soul. Utah Film Center is streaming the documentaries Nationtime and Amazing Grace for free this week. Nationtime, a 1972 film from legendary documentarian William Greaves, follows the National Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana. The controversial film was considered too radical for TV back in the ‘70s, and the full version of the film was made public for the first time last year. Amazing Grace goes behind-the-scenes on a very different history-making 1972 event: Aretha Franklin’s recording of the classic gospel album also called Amazing Grace.

Celebration & Black Owned Businesses Expo

June 26, noon–9 p.m., The Gateway

This is a free, family-friendly community celebration, featuring a Black Owned Business Expo as vendors, plus an art exhibit, food trucks, music, entertainment, a kids’ corner, storytelling, roller skating, movie night and barber battle.

While you’re here, subscribe to our print magazine.

Pack Creek Wildfire Threatens Popular Moab Recreation Area

Photo from Pack Creek Fire Information Website

It all started when an unknown party abandoned a campfire on June 9 in the La Sal Mountains north of Moab. The seemingly simple act of carelessness sparked a blaze, the Pack Creek Fire, that has now engulfed more than 8,500 acres and is only 30% contained. With excessive heat and ongoing drought gripping the western United States, firefighting crews—comprised of 426 personnel, 11 crews, 11 helicopters and 21 engines—are facing difficult conditions while working to control the wildfire.

Wildfires have become a source of increasing concern in Utah where wildland-urban interfaces (WUIs) extend further into previously undeveloped areas and hot, dry summer months turn unmanaged forest full of built up fuel into veritable tinder boxes. While the state does some admirable work with fuel reduction projects, the Pack Creek Fire—just one of three active and uncontained large fires in Utah—is evidence of how suddenly wildfires can sweep across huge swaths of land once sparked.

Pack Creek Fire Overlay on Trailforks

As is often the case with natural calamity, it isn’t until something familiar or beloved is threatened that we start paying attention. Such is the case outside of Moab, where access to the world-famous Whole Enchilada trail system, which runs from Burro Pass high in the La Sals all the way down to the Colorado River in town, is on the verge of burning. The Whole Enchilada is the centerpiece of Moab’s mountain biking infrastructure, economically crucial to the area because it draws tourists from around the globe and serves as the destination for myriad shuttle services in town that whisk riders high in the mountains above oppressive summer heat. Some high-altitude trails have already been engulfed, while the remainder of the area remains threatened.

On the historic and literary front, the fire has damaged portions of the Pack Creek Ranch. The ranch, with its bucolic cabins at the base of the La Sals, has hosted well-known authors such as Edward Abbey, Terry Tempest Williams, Wendell Berry, Amy Irvine, Robert Fulghum, Wallace Stegner and Katie Lee. Actors Robert Duvall, Susan Sarandon, John Wayne and most of the crew of the movie Thelma and Louise made their base at Pack Creek Ranch. Physicist Stephen Hawking and other scientists have all enjoyed the unique setting of Pack Creek Ranch.

The possible destruction of a popular recreation area isn’t the only devastation to come from the Pack Creek fire, even if it is what’s drawing the most eyes to the issue. Homes have been lost, wildlife habitat torched, and the area’s watershed and air quality compromised. Firefighters have been able to make significant progress in containing the fire over the past 24 hours thanks to slightly lower temperatures and higher humidity. There are now over 55 miles of fireline built along the blaze and no injuries have been reported.

There is a current statewide ban on open fires on all state lands and BLM managed lands in Southwestern Utah. Please be sure to adhere to all current fire restrictions as there is extreme fire danger in much of the state. Hopefully firefighters are able to contain the spread and save Utah’s most famous trail system, which is so vital to the surrounding community. We’ll continue to update this story and track how wildfires affect outdoor recreation, the environment and the economy in Utah this fire season.

Read more of our outdoor coverage and subscribe to our print magazine..

Utah Shakespeare Festival Returns to the Stage for 60th Anniversary

Trey Plutnicki, Raven Flynn, and André Spathelf-Sanders as Featured Performers in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2021 production of The Greenshow.
Trey Plutnicki (left), Raven Flynn, and André Spathelf-Sanders as Featured Performers in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2021 production of The Greenshow. (Photo by Karl Hugh. Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival 2021.)

Add Utah Shakespeare Festival to the list of summer traditions that are coming back after COVID-mandated cancellations in 2020. After altering and ultimately cancelling the Cedar City festival last summer, organizers are planning on a mostly back-to-normal season with safety precautions in place. 

René Thornton Jr. as Gower and Danforth Comins as Pericles in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2021 production of Pericles
René Thornton Jr. (left) as Gower and Danforth Comins as Pericles in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2021 production of Pericles. (Photo by Karl Hugh. Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival 2021.)

Frank Mack, Executive Producer of USF, said last summer was “heartbreaking and worrisome” as theaters that usually welcomed hundreds of guests daily remained empty. While organizers tentatively prepared for the 2021 season last winter, Mack worried that COVID-19 would once again shut down the Festival. During this time, the community rallied around USF—the State Legislature provided financial aid, and the Southwest Utah Health Department reassured USF that their company could be fully vaccinated.

That support demonstrates important the Festival is to the small college town. Beyond the obvious financial benefits—more than 100,000 annual visitors and $35 million in economic activity—is something more intangible. “This summer theater festival has been a large part of the identity of Cedar City,” Mack explains.

Rhett Guter as The Pirate King in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2021 production of The Pirates of Penzance
Rhett Guter as The Pirate King in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2021 production of The Pirates of Penzance. (Photo by Karl Hugh. Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival 2021.)

The return comes just in time for the theater’s 60th anniversary season. This season is dedicated to Fred C. Adams, the founder of USF who passed away in February 2020. One of this year’s productions, the 1879 operetta The Pirates of Penzance, was chosen in honor of Adams, who memorably played Major-General Stanley in USF’s 2001 production.

Along with Pirates, the Festival will produce four Shakespeare classics—a historical tragedy, Richard III, a slapstick comedy, The Comedy of Errors, and the romances Pericles and Cymbeline, which fall somewhere in between. The Festival season also includes two productions about Black Americans in the early 20th century. Ragtime, which opened on Broadway in 1998, uses the titular music style to follow African-Americans, Jewish immigrants and wealthy whites in New York. Lynn Nottage’s play Intimate Apparel is about a Black lingerie seamstress making her own way in 1905 Harlem. Rounding out the lineup is The Comedy of Terrors, a spooky/goofy horror comedy inspired by Shakespearean farce. As in years past, The Greenshow, a free outdoor concert, will play throughout the Festival.

After a year where most Utah theaters either switched to virtual performances or closed entirely, USF finally provides a chance to gather in a large crowd and soak up the unique intimacy of live drama. “We’ve sold $2 million in advanced ticket sales, which is terrific for us in a normal year, so in this year it’s even more exciting,” Mack says. He says audiences are especially eager to gather together again and see live theater—and for the team at USF, the feeling is mutual. “We’re always excited to see our audience come to Cedar City, but having not seen them for a year, it’s almost indescribable.” For the many locals and tourists who make the Festival an annual tradition, this 2021 season should be a welcome return to normal. “I often hear from the artists who work here  that one of their favorite things about working at the Utah Shakespeare Festival is the engagement with our audience…To see the artists and the audiences together again, that’s what I’m looking forward to most.” 

Utah Shakespeare Festival opens June 21 and runs through Oct. 9. Ticket sales and more information are on their website. Read more on arts and entertainment in Utah.

Tools of the Trade: Home Bar Essentials

Expert barman is making cocktail at night club or bar. Glass of fiery cocktail on the bar counter against the background of bartenders hands with fire. Barman day concept

It’s not like we’ve been popping down to our local pub for a quick one of late. And, while we miss the charms of a regular crowd and the bartender who knows our pour, drinking at home does have its advantages, especially in Utah. That is, you get to decide how stiff to pour a drink. Cocktails in Utah, we’ve often lamented, are hobbled by the state’s fastidious dram laws, which means no matter how skillful your bartender is, well, there just can’t be enough booze in there. A cocktail, as designed, is meant to a be a stiff drink, to kick things off. In this sense, the home bar is the best bar where you can attentively marry the proportions and not skimp on the gravy. So have at it and make the kind of boozy concoction Frank Sinatra would pour his guests, with plenty of ice, and advise: “You’re going to want to let that lie down a bit.” 


A JIGGER. First and foremost, a jigger is something I always have. When working with multiple spirit cocktails, like a Last Word or a Negroni, it’s key to have the correct proportions. My workhorse is the ‘Gigger’ from Curriculum ($32).

A SHAKER, MIXING GLASS AND BARSPOON. For shaken cocktails, the home bartender can use a cobbler shaker. For stirred cocktails, you want to have a mixing glass and a barspoon. You can always stir in a pint glass, but that’s no fun. A proper barspoon helps with an elegant, silent stir. Just please, no barspoons with the red tops. They have no balance and less style. Koriko Shaking Tin Set, $28.

A STRAINER. You want to have a strainer with a tight coil to avoid having a float of ice chips on top of a drink. Nothing ruins a shaken daiquiri like a mouthful of ice. The Antique Hawthorne Strainer ($24) is a great choice. Easy to use and clean, and it works for both shaken or stirred cocktails.

A JUICER.You’re going to want to have a decent juicer. Don’t fight trying to hand-squeeze citrus. Mexican Beehive Juicer, $24.

For presentation, use either A ROCKS GLASS OR A COUPE GLASS for cocktails at home. Please let the world be rid of the conical martini glass. It’s not the original martini glass, and it’s difficult to carry and drink from. Xaquixe Galeria Glass, $19.

A PEELER FOR GARNISHING. Garnishes aren’t all for show. The expression of citrus oils on an Old Fashioned is the difference between a good and great drink, and it takes about 10 seconds. You don’t need to spend a lot of money. Just get one that works. 

AND FINALLY, ICE! For me personally, We always just have some 2-by-2-inch cubes in the freezer. The larger cube keeps the drink cold but dilutes the cocktail much slower than your traditional ice cube you’d get from your refrigerator. Who wants to rush to finish their cocktail before it’s over-diluted? Consider an ice ball maker at home. It makes a perfect sphere, extends the life of your drink and it’s always a fun party trick. 

All products (except peeler) available at Curriculum, SLC. Subscribe to print issues of Salt Lake magazine.

‘Thaimes’ Two: Pair of Restaurants Highlights New Direction for Park City Cuisine

Panang curry and coconut shrimp from Taste of Thai

The two Thai restaurants are a mere .3 miles apart, but even that measure exaggerates the true distance—a few hundred feet as the crow flies—owing to Kimball Junction’s labyrinthine layout. A pair of restaurants serving Thai cuisine in Snyderville Basin would have been unthinkable not long ago where the food scene was dominated by ubiquitous chains like Café Rio and Jimmy Johns, but a shift in Park City’s dining scene is changing expectations. High-end boutique dining and uninspiring chains have long been well represented, but the massive middle encompassing a huge array of cultures, tastes and price points is finally getting the opportunity to make its mark.

Taste of Thai, the latest example of this dining evolution, opened its doors in late May 2021. While a single restaurant opening seems perhaps unremarkable on its face, this particular instance is a great sign of a healthy dining ecosystem. It’s close proximity to Thai So Good, another Thai restaurant which opened roughly 18 months ago, is a feature not a bug. Restaurants appearing to be competitors tend to thrive in each other’s presence, helping create a more vibrant community welcoming further restaurant launches.

Exterior of Taste of Thai, the latest in a string of independent Park City restaurants

That’s exactly what’s happening in Kimball Junction, which is quickly establishing itself as the central dining hub for the greater Park City area as both locals and visitors are priced out of Old Town and its immediate environs. In addition to Taste of Thai and Thai So Good, numerous other independently owned restaurants have made their mark. From the inspired Jamaican cuisine of 11 Hauz to the Mediterranean-influenced fast casual fare at Vessel Kitchen to the intimate Italian dining at Cortona, the area is beginning to boast a legitimately delicious variety of food that isn’t your standard resort-town fare. These aren’t high priced steak house analogs serving elk shank to match the mountain setting—they’re locally-owned restaurants bringing a legitimate cultural depth to a dining culture that’s beginning to mirror the adventurous and varied scene found in Salt Lake City.

We’ve spilled a fair amount of ink, both actual and digital, on many of these restaurants, but what about the newcomer, Taste of Thai? The first impressions have been great. The Panang curry I had was terrific, as was the coconut shrimp appetizer. Their online ordering was incredibly intuitive and easy to use, allowing me to choose a specific pick-up time and pay online. The only disappointment? The vibrant interior made me wish I’d chosen to eat in rather than carry out. In all, it’s an excellent addition to the dining scene on a burgeoning restaurant row in Kimball Junction that already includes 11 Hauz, Maxwells, Hearth and Hill and Bartolo’s.

Real food made by and for real people is proliferating in Snyderville Basin. Yes, there’s still a bit of a Park City surcharge compared to what you’ll find in the Salt Lake Valley, but absent are the eye-watering prices and peak season crowds found on Main Street. Independent restauranteurs are redefining what mountain town dining is in Park City, and the community is better for it.

Stay up-to-date on our favorite restaurants as we get back to dining out this year.

5 Summer Market Must-Stops

Children gather around a decorated car at Park Silly, a summer market in Park City,
Photo courtesy Park Silly Market

Gather your sunscreen, wide-brimmed hats, and reusable bags—it’s market time. Farmer’s markets have become a must-do for many summer shoppers, but as the sun reminds us to get outside, think about scheduling in a few market stops you might not have heard much about.

Wild Earth Market

Join Tree Utah this Saturday for a day of art and community at the Wild Earth Market. Utah-based painters, printmakers, and more will be donating 10% of their proceeds towards the environmental group, which has planted hundreds of thousands of trees in Utah public spaces. See some new art, learn about a great cause, and, while you’re there, sign up to volunteer with Tree Utah to assist in new plantings around the state. 

Open June 12 
623 State St., SLC

Park Silly Market 

After dropping by your go-to coffee shop this weekend, consider a pilgrimage up to Park City for the Park Silly Market. Park Silly has everything you want from an outdoor market—great music, tasty food and plenty of skilled artisans. For those of us that usually only make it up to Main Street when the concrete is crusted with ice, the summertime mountain views will be worth the drive alone. 

Open weekends through September
780 Main St., Park City

Urban Flea Market

Mark your calendars on the second Sunday, grab a few friends,and drop by the Urban Flea Market at the Gateway. Here you can browse through mercurial stands supplied with vintage goods and antiques, and many sellers can teach you the history behind your purchase. Things move a little slower in the city on the Sabbath, and it’s an excellent time to get downtown, explore and meet some new people. 

Open once a month through October
12 W. Rio Grande, SLC

Motor-Vu Swap Meet

Buyers and sellers – come one, come all! Buyers: This place has a little bit of everything, and you never know what randomness you’re about to run into—looking for a new box of pink tiles to repair your 1950s bathroom, or perhaps a Def Leppard Hysteria tour tee? You might find it here among the conglomerate of mish-mashed unexpected goodies. Sellers: Interested in getting rid of the junk that’s been in your basement for the last 15 years that you keep telling yourself one day you’ll use? Grab it—actually, grab the weirdest things you can find around your house if you plan on selling. Seriously, the stranger it is, the more it is likely to sell. Insider tip: although the swap meet is open both Saturday and Sunday, Sunday is the day you don’t want to miss if you’re going to sell. Don’t take my word for it; the selling fee says it all: $5 on Saturday and on Sunday the price ranges from $20-35 depending on how much space you need. 

Open weekends 
5368 S. 1050 West, Riverdale

Indie Ogden’s Bizarre Market

After you leave the Motor-Vu Swap Meet, make your drive up north worth the trip and head to Ogden for the Bizarre Market. The setting couldn’t be better; housed in The Monarch, this place is filled with endless quirky finds guaranteed to pull your face into non-stop smiles. Meet makers, artisans, up cyclers, non-profits, and grab a bite to eat at the various food trucks. 

Open Sundays from 11-4
455 E. 25th St., Ogden

A Beginner’s Guide to Fly Fishing in Utah

Woman stands in river fly fishing
Photo courtey Western Rivers Flyfisher

The line gracefully dances across the water as fading sunlight glimmers off its surface. The only sound is that of the river’s perpetual journey. You’re just a pair of waders, a few hand-tied flies and a rod away from an endless stream of grip-and-grin photographs for your Instagram feed. It’s like the veteran fly fisher who shows up to casual occasions with a hat full of used fishhooks told me, “It’s not like you’re going to step out there and have it be some personal A River Runs Through It dream.” 

Hold up. I’m not? Fly fishing, it turns out, is a subtle art. It takes a singular focus to fully master this mediative sport. 

To do more than stand in the middle of a river futilely casting away with a grip of expensive gear you’ll have to build a foundation of skill and knowledge. Utah is home to remote high-mountain lakes, easy-access rivers perfect for after-work fishing and everything in between, ready to dish up a plethora of trout and bass to fly fishers with some mettle. All you have to do is earn your stripes. Ready to get started?

Gathering Intel

Two women with fly fishing gear kneel in a river
Courtesy Western Rivers Flyfisher

Starting from square one can seem daunting, but amid the internet’s endless detritus is a wealth of information to guide you on the journey to fly fishing nirvana. As anyone who has tried to learn a new skill, from patching drywall to changing a bicycle tire, can attest, there’s an instructional YouTube channel or a podcast for that. 

Start with Ascent Fly Fishing’s virtual tools. Ascent’s biologists, guides and committed anglers have devoted a lifetime to tricking fish into biting what you’re casting and in their spare time have written instructional blog posts with titles like “Fly Fishing for Kokanee Salmon 101” and podcasts covering subjects like organizing your fly box.

Fly Fish Food, a full-service retail shop in Orem (Fly Fish Food, 932 N. State St., Orem, 801-615-6055), has an online library of remarkably detailed fly-tying tutorials with video guides, materials lists and the option to shop online.

If you prefer the weight of a book in hand, reach for the Guide to Fly Fishing in Utah by Steve Schmidt.

Take a Lesson

Fly fishing
Courtesy Western Rivers Flyfisher

While diligent study is a morally-sound endeavor, few would attest to it being more rewarding than being out on the water in Utah’s beautiful public lands. But without some expertise, you’re likely to spend the whole day staring at your surroundings without hooking a single fish. “Our emphasis is teaching people a foundation of knowledge they can use to pursue fly fishing in any way they choose,” says Steve Schmidt, the owner of Western Rivers Flyfisher who literally wrote the aforementioned book on fly fishing in Utah.

The best starting point, according to Schmidt, is with Western Rivers Flyfisher’s summer Fly Fishing 101 classes (1071 E. 900 South, SLC, 801-521-6324). “These classes give you the basics to start a lifelong journey,” he says. “When I started at nine years old, I had to go to the library to check out books and seek out someone who would teach me to tie knots. We make it much easier than that.” 

The four-day classes begin with two evening sessions covering gear and essential flies and get into subjects like how weather affects insects and fish. Day three is an evening session at the park to focus solely on casting instruction. You’ll learn the roll cast and the pick-up/lay-down, along with  basic knots and rigging.

Day four is out on the water of the popular and accessible Middle Provo River for the hands-on portion of your instruction. Women’s-only classes are also available as well as guided trips. Guides are there to not only help clients hook some fish but also become better anglers. “Even on our guided trips, we’re trying to teach something people can use in the future,” says Schmidt.

Helpful Fly-Fishing Apps for Utah

Those pocket-sized computers we all tote around are a useful source of on-the-go information. Here are a couple of helpful apps for fly fishing in Utah.

Flies To Tie

Free, comprehensive fly-tying instruction and video tutorials.  

Bad Bass

Contains location-specific information on weather, fish species, bug hatches, water flow tables, access points and “what’s working.” 

Utah Hunting & Fishing

The Official DWR App lets you purchase and store licenses, view regulations and access fish identification guide.

This story is part of the May/June 2021 issue of Salt Lake magazine. Subscribe to the magazine here.

Where to Get Fried Chicken in Utah

Where to Get Fried Chicken in Utah
Fried chicken from Pretty Bird

Briar Handly of Handle in Park City and HSL in Salt Lake might have started the fried chicken invasion of Utah—when HSL first opened, it was the fried chicken everyone was talking about. (Of course, back in prehistory, the first Kentucky Fried Chicken was in SLC, so we have a long history of fried.)

But now it seems you can’t run a restaurant without fried chicken. Bars as different as Garage on Beck and Proper Brewing serve chicken and waffles, fried chicken is on most brunch and breakfast menus now—Pig & a Jelly Jar makes great fried chicken. So does Sweet Lake Biscuits & Limeade. And Rye. Pretty Bird brought us the first hot fried chicken sandwich, Nashville-style; Justin Soelberg’s Nomad Eatery also makes a tasty hot fried chicken sandwich. 

(One wonders whatever happened to other chicken preparations. Chicken and dumplings. Chicken pie. Has roasted chicken been entirely relegated to grocery store rotisseries? Has Costco’s $4 chicken so dominated the poultry pecking order that no other roast chicken dare show its face?)

But as a Southerner, to me, a world with too much fried chicken is just enough fried chicken. Curry fried chicken, hot fried chicken, organic fried chicken—I tend to like it all.

Get more dining recommendations from our food section. Read about the opening of Raising Cane’s here.

Raising Cane’s Is Utah’s Latest Fast Food Frenzy

Exterior of Raising Cane's on opening day in South Jordan
Raising Cane's on opening day in South Jordan; Photo by Josh Petersen

Utah loves a fast food chain with a devoted cult following—think Chick-Fil-A, In-N-Out Burger and Shake Shack, which all remain wildly popular years after their Beehive State debuts. It makes sense for Utah; these places are relatively cheap, kid-friendly and most of the time you don’t even have to leave your minivan. 

Add Raising Cane’s to the list of fast food taking over Utah suburbs. The Louisiana-based chicken restaurant opened in South Jordan Tuesday with the kind of lines usually reserved for Disneyland in the summer or gay clubs during Pride. When I made it to the front of the line at 3:30 p.m., the employee manning the door, a convincingly passionate Raising Cane’s evangelist, estimated they’d already served 3,000 people that day. The drive-through line, which seemed to go on for blocks, was at least an hour wait. (All this before the dinner rush. Shudder.) Especially devoted Raising Cane’s fans tried to camp out the night before—employees put a stop to that, but some people were already waiting for their finger fix the next morning before 6 a.m.

Raising Cane's Box Combo with chicken fingers, fries, coleslaw, Texas toast and Cane's sauce
Raising Cane’s Box Combo; Photo by Josh Petersen

First things first, no chicken finger is worth pitching a tent in your local parking lot. Clearly, Raising Cane’s is already a huge success, but this sort of frenzy may, at least in the short term, turn off the uninitiated. There’s just no way to live up to the hype. Plus, newbies may be surprised to know that the menu essentially has one item: chicken fingers, served in combos with crinkle-cut fries, Texas toast and coleslaw. (There’s also a sandwich which is…chicken fingers on a bun.) If you’re only going to do one thing, you better do it well.

So yeah, on the one hand, they’re just chicken fingers. On the other hand, let’s not be snobbish: chicken fingers are basically a perfect food, uniting picky adults ordering off the kids’ menu, actual kids ordering off the kids’ menu and anyone who’s not too proud to accept some simple pleasure in their life. Even a mediocre chicken finger is rarely disappointing, and Raising Cane’s really does make a great one. The meat is noticeably fresher than your typical fast-food fare, and every order comes with their signature sauce, a tangy and just-a-little-bit spicy concoction the restaurant swears is top-secret—but you can find imitation recipes online. 

More locations have already been announced in West Valley and Provo, and an employee told me the chain is planning on at least six restaurants in Utah soon. Maybe it’s best to wait until the excitement dies down so you don’t have to share one location with the entire valley. Still, Raising Cane’s does belong near the top of the fast food tier, and it’s a great alternative to a certain homophobic competitor that clogs both 2100 South and your arteries. (Okay, to be fair, Raising Cane’s isn’t exactly health food either.) And while I for one welcome our new fried chicken overlords, some local favorites, like HSL, Pig & A Jelly Jar and Pretty Bird, serve great fried chicken too, and they could use some of our love.

3788 W. 11400 South, South Jordan

See our favorite places to get your fried chicken fix in Utah. Our May/June print issue is on newsstands now.

Red Butte Concert Series Jams 22 Shows Into Two Months

Umphrey's McGee
Umphrey's McGee played Red Butte Garden, Aug. 4, 2019. Photo by Amanda Jones/Salt Lake magazine

Red Butte Garden announced the lineup of its 2021 Outdoor Concert Series Tuesday and, on the same day, one of the headlining acts was already sold out on the Garden’s website. Don’t let that deter you. There are still 21 more concerts scheduled for the endlessly popular Red Butte Garden Concert Series.

With the backdrop of a 21-acre botanical garden, thousands of music lovers will lay out blankets on the grass to settle in for the return of a summer staple. Last year’s concert series never happened, thanks to the pandemic, and, this year, organizers seem to be making up for the deficit of good tunes with at least two shows every week through September.

This year’s Red Butte Garden Concert Series kicks off July 30 with Nashville-based Jason Isbell, one of the best-known singer-songwriters in the country right now (tickets on the Red Butte Garden website are already sold out). The theme of Americana continues with the band Drive-By Truckers playing Aug. 1, Mat Kearney, another Nashville-based musician, on Aug. 4 and country singer Travis Tritt on Aug. 6.

If that’s not your jam, never fear, rock band Wilco will perform with mavens of riot grrrl Sleater-Kinney on Aug. 8. The rest of the lineup includes more rock—from alt to classic to contemporary—pop, funk, folk and soul. 

Red Butte concert series
Concert goers wait for the show to start at Red Butte Gardens

Individual concert tickets go on sale online first to Red Butte Garden members on Monday, June 21. Tickets then open to the general public on Monday, June 28, and tickets will sell out fast. Before you go, double check the venue’s restrictions on the size of chair you can bring as well as outside food and drink (and make the most out of your experience with Salt Lake‘s tips on how to Red Butte.) 

Full Red Butte Concert Series Lineup

While you’re here, check out our Art & Entertainment section for more music and the latest issue of Salt Lake magazine.

New Perspectives in Plan-B Theatre’s ‘Local Color’

Playwrights of Local Color, clockwise: Tito Livas, Chris Curlett, Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin and Tatiana Christian
Playwrights of Local Color, clockwise: Tito Livas, Chris Curlett, Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin and Tatiana Christian; Courtesy Plan-B Theatre

From a disturbing portrait of late-capitalist dystopia to an emotional debate about Facebook ethics, Plan-B Theatre’s final 2020-21 production covers a lot of ground in its one-hour runtime. The audio production series Local Color debuts new short plays from Plan-B’s Theatre Artists of Color Workshop. With Local Color you get four plays for the price of one—and that price, by the way, is whatever you want it to be. (But after a grueling year for local artists, we should all pay as generously as we can afford to.) 

The short plays work well in an audio format—as months of streaming Netflix taught us, something about at-home binging warps our attention spans. Director Jerry Rapier led each of the four casts through Zoom rehearsals and recorded the production in at-home recording studios. Taken together, the four plays touch on some similar ideas, but what stands out is the differences between each vision—and how rare it is to see these specific perspectives in Utah productions.

In Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin’s DOLs, two young girls, Adriane (Darby Mest) and Julie (Katie Jones Nall) meet at Wyman Park in 1980s Baltimore. They are strangers, but quickly bond as nerdy girls who cut class to spend more time at the library. Julie introduces Adriane to Heidi, (Yolanda Strange) a motherlike figure who is part of “Daughters of Lesbians,” a local socialist activist group. The play, based on Darby-Duffin’s own childhood, is full of lived-in details that could only come from her. Mest, who is Darby-Duffin’s daughter, is a particular highlight playing the role based on her mother. After a fairly abrupt ending, I wished there was more to listen to—the play’s single scene feels like a starting place, and there is plenty of room for this play to further explore its compelling characters.

Guise by Chris Curlett is an interesting companion to DOLs, and not just because their titles accidentally-on-purpose combine to reference a classic musical. The two plays explore the social dynamics of male and female friendships, and while “DOLs” is a lighthearted comedy, Guise considers the darker side of these relationships. Joey (Lonzo Liggins) is adjusting to life in a mostly white town, which leaves him with frequent panic attacks. In a locker room, he confronts his white friend Rick (Brian Kocherhans) about his lack of support and racial awareness. Then, a mutual friend Brett (Tyler Fox) joins in with his own locker room talk—a casually bilious mix of sexism, homophobia and racism. Because it’s still rare to see male characters talk about their feelings with this level of vulnerability, Guise feels refreshing. While Joey is the center of the play, Rick also stands out as a smart portrayal of a well-meaning white guy who isn’t always clued in to his privilege and casual racism.

My personal favorite of the four, Suicide Box depicts a near-future world that feels a lot like the present day. Tatiana Christian’s play follows Lilly (Kandyce Marie), who is barely surviving a demeaning customer service job. As Lilly deals with overly chipper coworkers and rude callers, her “tethered” (Mest) narrates her darkest thoughts with a mix of sarcasm and casual self-destruction. Meanwhile, mysterious “suicide boxes” have begun to appear everywhere—people go in, press a button and never come out. Sound Designer Cheryl Ann Cluff and Sound Engineer David Evanoff cleverly use vocal effects to differentiate between Lilly’s dialogue and inner thoughts, and I would love to see how a director would stage the play for an in-person audience. In just 11 minutes, Christian effectively builds the dystopian setting, and her critiques of American work culture are cutting and spot-on. The Black Mirror-esque scenario remains bleak until the very end, but Christian’s sharp writing and knack for dark comedy prevents the play from becoming overwhelmingly heavy.

Organic by Tito Livas dramatizes an unfortunately all too relatable phenomenon: petty social media fights. After Michael (Carlos Nobleza Posas) sees a homophic Facebook post from his former coworker Joe (Liggins), he can’t help but rage-comment. The twist: Joe is a closeted gay man who cruises sex apps for casual hookups. Michael’s husband Philip (Fox) advises against making rash judgments, but Michael’s very public takedown may have consequences none of the characters can anticipate. The conceit in Organic may be the most simple of all the plays, but if you worry that discussions of social media posts sound too dry, Livas wrings plenty of complexity from this simple scenario. The play earnestly asks what responsibilities queer people, both in and out of the closet, have to others in their community, and I finished Organic feeling sympathy for all three characters.

Local Color is a welcome and necessary platform for artists of color, counteracting the white-dominated theater community in Utah. “Over the years, a lot of times I’ll get a call because [theaters] know I’m a Black actress,” explained Darby-Duffin in an interview with Salt Lake. “We wanted to be more than that.” For both the writers and actors, this series provides a too-rare opportunity to present characters of color that go beyond supporting roles and easy stereotypes.

Local Color is streaming on Plan-B’s website through June 13. Pay-what-you-can tickets are available online. Read more stories about arts and entertainment in Utah.

Learning to Dine Again at Veneto

Marco and Amy Stevanoni hold glasses of wine at Veneto
Marco and Amy Stevanoni carefully curate experiences at Veneto; Photo by Adam Finkle

Who was this person, offering to take my coat and show me to my table? Host? My table? Mine? What was this cloth on the tabletop? These fragile vessels on delicate stems, glinting in the candlelight? Was this a menu? A wine list? Was I dreaming?

Table setting with wine glasses at Veneto
Photo by Adam Finkle

After less home cooking than what should have happened and more occasions of “let’s just order a pizza,” I was learning to dine again. My release back into the wild—my restaurant rehab, as it were—was overseen by some of Salt Lake City’s most caring hands, Veneto’s Marco and Amy Stevanoni.

The Stevanonis had invited me out of hibernation to enjoy a wine event; well, it would have been a wine event, but the pandemic curtailed the restaurant’s ability to hold its curated wine dinners (that sell out in seconds). But as Marco says, every dinner he serves is a custom wine event.

Marco Stevanoni pours wine into a glass at Veneto
Photo by Adam Finkle

“Even two people coming in are going to have a wine event,” Marco says. “That’s what we’ve always wanted Veneto to be, an exceptional experience.” 

Veneto’s daringly curated wine program is dedicated to the not-so-humble goal of offering a complete selection of the best wines from all 20 regions in Italy. Starting with a prosecco, I discover that the muscle memory is there, my atrophy is supported by Veneto’s seven-course seasonal tasting menu—from zuppa to millefoglie ai fruiti rossi—and meticulously augmented by Marco’s attentive and improvisational wine pairings.

“You have to match the wine to an expectation, a mood,” he says. “It does not have to be expensive [although Veneto has a bottle on its list that goes for 16K, BTW.] We want what we bring to the table to match the food, their companions, so we all discover an exceptional night together.”

To get in on the ground floor of Veneto’s periodic wine events, often featuring tastings and lectures guided by winemakers direct from Italy, sign up for the restaurant’s e-newsletter. This story is part of our May/June 2021 print issue. Subscribe here.

Happy #Pride SLC! Even with no parade this year, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate and support the LGBT+ community in Utah. The link in our bio has everything you need to know about 2021 Pride Week. #utahpride 🌈🏳️‍🌈 ...

Happy National Hamburger Day! Celebrate by trying one of our 5 favorite burgers in Utah. Did your favorite make the list? Head to the link in our bio to find out. 🍔⁠ ...

Last summer, well…It just wasn’t summer, right? That's why our May/June cover story is your go-to guide for creating the perfect Salt Lake summer. We have all kinds of ideas for curing your cabin fever—like a day trip exploring the Great Salt Lake—at the link in our bio!⁠ 🧂☀️

Photo by Adam Thomas

Who's ready to go stargazing?⁠ 🌌

Utah is home to some of the world's best dark sky parks. We have a full rundown of where to go at the link in our bio!

Photo by @austendiamondphoto; Courtesy @visitutah

Last summer just wasn’t summer, not real summer anyway.⁠

That's why our May/June issue has everything you need to play catch-up and soak in the perfect Salt Lake summer. Plus, we talked to some real-life COVID superheroes and continued our 2021 travel series in the Centennial State. ☀️⁠

Our new issue hits newsstands May 1! Subscribers: look for the magazine in your mailbox soon. 📪

Photo by @austincronnellyphotography

Happy Earth Day Salt Lake! ⁠🌎

Today on our website, we're talking about how climate change worsens wildfires, air quality and drought in Utah. Plus, we have easy ways to get involved in conservation efforts this week and some of our favorite thrift stores for sustainable fashion.⁠

The link is in our bio!⁠

(P.S. check out Earth Day inspired outdoor wedding photos by following our friends @utahbridemag.)⁠

📸: Douglas Pulsipher; Courtesy @visitutah

You know it's spring in Utah when cherry blossoms are in full bloom at the @utstatecapitol ⁠🌸😍⁠

Photo by @gravesstuart

Inspired by @oldsaltlake, we're celebrating #throwbackthursday with a favorite snapshot of early 20th century Salt Lake City. 🏖️⁠

Photos shared by @oldsaltlake are inspiring millennials and zoomers decades later with visions of a different city: one with easily accessible public transportation, walkable streets, local businesses (open late) and distinctive architecture.⁠

See more photos at the link in our bio. ⁠

Pictured: Women relax at what is believed to be Saltair Beach, date unknown

Why did Utah's only Titanic passenger not survive her journey?⁠

The descendants of Irene Corbett believe that the 30-year-old teacher sacrificed her life to save others. It's one of the many ways this remarkable figure bucked tradition and forged her own trail.⁠

Read more about Irene at the link in our bio!

One year ago today: a Salt Lake earthquake that even shook Moroni 👼⁠

Photo by @gravesstuart