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Summer festivals, events and parades coming back to Utah

Three hot air balloons — including Strawberry Heights, right, start to land on the second day of the 34th annual Balloon Fest during America's Freedom Festival in Provo on Monday, July 3, 2017. Kelsey Brunner, Deseret News

EPHRAIM, Utah — Summer in Utah means festivals, rodeos, parades and other events. And after 2020, this year many places are roaring back.

Organizers say people can’t wait to have their traditions again.

Later this month here on the campus of Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, the place will be full of events for the Scandinavian Festival. They are back in full force this year over Memorial Day weekend.

They did some small things in 2020 to keep the Scandinavian traditions there, but organizers say it wasn’t the same.

“When we announced it is coming back, ‘back back,’ people were thrilled and ecstatic,” said Ephraim City recreation director Michael Patton. “Our goal is to bring back as much as we can as safely as possible.”

In fact, Patton says it could be the biggest Scandinavian festival in their history.

Up and down the state towns and cities are proud of these festivals and events. Maybe none prouder this year than Pleasant Grove and Strawberry Days.

“It is happening 100%, and we are doing our 100-year celebration. “It’s awesome. Awesome, awesome,” said Strawberry Days chairwoman Lisa Young.

It runs June 12-20 with activities every day, a rodeo, grand parade, main street birthday celebration and a band.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun, it’s going to be a great year,” she said.

Young says they plan to follow the COVID health protocols from the health department at the time, and they believe they can do these events safely.

“Sit with your family during the parade,” said Young.

Speaking of parades, the state’s biggest summer event is Days of 47, with the parade in downtown Salt Lake City, a rodeo, races, and float preview party. It appears those things should all be back in some form or fashion this year.

The state’s second-largest festival by attendance is Swiss Days, which will be held in Midway over Labor Day weekend. It appears to be coming back as well.

The Utah Arts Festival in downtown Salt Lake City is moving from June to August this year. Executive Director Aimee Dunsmore says they also cut it from four days to three.

“The site will be a different layout,” she said. “We won’t have the amphitheater stage, and will have fewer performances and maybe a little lower attendance.”

Dunsmore says they are planning for what they knew a few months ago, and trying to plan for what kind of restrictions will still be in place in Salt Lake City going forward. They plan a Covid page for the UAF website.

“This has been a whole year of our lives shut in the house. I am excited to get out to events but a little nervous, too,” she said.

In Ephraim, Patton says people are excited to have their traditions back and honor their pioneer and Scandinavian heritage in the area.

“Everyone is tired of what’s going on, people are ready to get back to normal life,” he said.

And in Pleasant Grove, they can’t wait, either to think of strawberries and cream.

“So far the only response has been, ‘We’ve missed it,'” said Young.