Castle Valley Pageant concludes performance
The Castle Valley Pageant recently completed its 32nd season of performances. The pageant ran for eight nights. A pre-pageant pioneer village began each evening at 6 p.m. The visitors to the pageant were treated to a variety of pioneer activities. They received a horseshoe nail ring. They had the opportunity to milk a cow, taste freshly churned butter and homemade bread. The hand cranked homemade ice cream was a popular attraction. Guests sampled hand pulled honey taffy. There was a buggy and a wagon to give rides. Visitors learned how a horse was shoed and the workings of a blacksmith shop. The DUPs set up items in a cabin to show relics from the past and what their uses were. Quilters were on hand to show quilt work and rag rug making.
Visitors played with pioneer toys and learned how to curl their hair with rag rollers. Dutch oven cooking was also part of the pre-pageant activities. After the pioneer village, then pageant cast members greeted audience members as they moved around and through the audience visiting. The opening ceremony of the pageant was a spectacular event with the United States flags and flags from each branch of the military being flown from horseback. The pageant begins with the wagons and pioneers walking through the pageant site.
Brigham Young issued a directive for pioneers in Sanpete County to come across the mountain into the Castle Valley to settle. Many pioneers answered the call and began settling Castle Valley. Settlements were formed along the bottom lands and at the mouths of where the creeks flowed from the canyons. The settlers began farming and irrigation of crops. The pageant tells the story of some of these settlers and their experiences in settling the Castle Valley. The pageant is sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Pageant goers were honored to have Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency visit the pageant. He attended the lamb fry with his family and then visited the pageant site. He met with the cast members and held a prayer meeting with them. He greeted the childrens choir from Cleveland that performed that evening and posed for pictures with them. Pres. Uchtdorf spoke to the large audience gathered for the pageant. He encouraged everyone to learn from their pioneer ancestors and to be pioneers today. Pioneers in standing up for what is right and carrying forth with the traditions of the pioneers. Pres. Uchtdorf and his family watched the pageant before continuing their vacation.
This was the first pageant presented after the death of its founder Montell Seely. Seely was killed in a vehicle/pedistrian accident in Fairview Canyon as he and family members were trekking from Sanpete Valley to Emery County just days after the conclusion of the 2008 pageant. Many memories of Seely were shared during the 2010 pageant. Ed Geary gave a history of the Castle Valley each evening of the pageant. New to the pageant this year was the childrens choir as primary children from each of the wards in Emery County participated in singing songs prior to each pageant.
The Castle Valley lamb fry was held at the Castle Dale fairgrounds each evening before the pageant.
Mark Justice is a member of the pageant presidency. He has been associated with the Castle Valley Pageant for nine seasons now. He keeps track of attendance and he said in 2008 there were 11,600 visitors to the pageant and attendance this season was 14,967. That was 3,500 more people this year. Justice attributes the increase in attendance to two factors including the visit from Pres. Dieter Uchtdorf and the addition of the primary childrens choir.
"One of the best things about the pageant is it attracts visitors from out of town. Ninety-five percent of those who come are from out of the area. The pageant is funded by the church missionary department. We feel good about the pageant and it felt good to play to large crowds. The visit from Pres. Uchtdorf was very significant. He is a nice man, very sharp and on the ball with a great sense of humor. Our Tuesday crowd hit a record number because of his visit.
"We couldn't put on the pageant without the large cast of volunteers who are in the pageant and the pioneer village. Approximately 400 volunteers come together to put on the pageant. The people from the wards are used as ushers and guards. It's a significant event that involves many people. It's great for people to come here and visit our county. It's a positive thing. I want to express appreciation for Pres. Allan Sharp, Lewis Stilson and Brad Giles. They take the responsibility of the pageant very seriously and they are very supportive. We appreciate the sheriff's office and search and rescue for their help with parking. They really roll people out of there every night after the pageant. They have the parking down to a science. Reed Martin takes care of finding volunteers for the pioneer village. One year the teepee blew down and I called Zen Majors to see if he would come and put up his teepee and he's been back every year since and he tells stories for the audience.
"The school district provides the buses for the event and their drivers volunteer to drive the visitors. It really takes the whole county to make the pageant a success and it's a positive promotion of our county.
"We had great weather for the pageant this year. One night it rained for 15-20 minutes. The cast did a great job. The church employees did a great job. We are indebted to anyone who had something to do with the pageant.
"This was our first season without the founder of the pageant Montell Seely. We carried on without him, but it wasn't the same. Montell and I became good friends. He had a knack for getting along with people. He would find out what you were interested in and he would ask you questions about it and pretty soon you felt like you'd known him forever. I really loved Montell. Every night at the pageant this year we would mention Montell and his accident and pay tribute to him. Montell was a wonderful storyteller and we miss him. We cannot replace him. We are doing the best we can. It was remarkable to me that Montell was able to keep the pageant alive all these years. He had a passion for the pageant and we all miss him.
"He would have been honored to have Pres. Uchtdorf attend the pageant. He is a significant person in the church and his acknowledgement and attendance at the pageant meant a lot to us. I hope it means the church will continue their long term support of the pageant. The pageant is held every other year on even years," said Justice.