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West Valley City Journal

West Valley Seeks to Create Signature Heritage Event

Aug 30, 2016 03:47PM ● By Chris Larson

Kids learn to make small figures at the Wild West Roundup on July 16. –Travis Barton

The Utah Cultural Celebration Center hosted the inaugural West Valley Wild West Roundup on July 16 as a way to celebrate the history and culture of the area as the pioneers would have seen it.
Visual and Performing Arts Manager Michael Christensen said West Valley City — the second largest city in the state — was trying to develop a marquee or “signature” summer event for the cultural center. At the same time, Christensen said Mayor Ron Bigelow received a grant from Zions Bank to help develop the city’s community arts program.
“We thought, ‘How can we celebrate our western pioneer heritage, our Native American history and kind of the Hollywood and real cowboy versions of what happens in the interior west, historically and contemporarily?’” Christensen said.
The five-hour, one-day event featured live music and events and demonstrations from several local artists and experts, culminating in a performance by The Legacy Folk Ensemble, all celebrating of the cultural heritage of the area.
The grant money helped crystalize a spring/summer event that had gone through a few forms before becoming the Wild West Round Up. Originally, the cultural center developed the Festival Olmeca and that lead to another event called The Mix.
“As we were talking with the mayor, we thought that West Valley would like to have its own contribution to the larger celebrations that take place in July on and around the 24th,” Christensen said.
Christensen said the goal is to connect the Wild West Roundup with the Days of ‘47 events.
The cultural center partnered with the non-profit Utah Pioneer Heritage Arts to bring in both musical and demonstration talent which included a handcart, woodworking, blacksmithing, cornhusk doll making, cowboy poetry, storytelling and pioneer era games.
“If we don’t ever understand our roots we won’t ever understand ourselves,” Executive Director for the UPHA Clive Romney said of the many reasons to know both the culture and skills of the pioneers.
The Li’l Feathers Committee brought in students for a cultural demonstration. Li’l Feathers is a Title XI-funded program administered through the Office of Indian Education, a federal agency.
The Native American Trading post hosted a booth at the event to advertise their unique products and further represent that facet of Utah’s history. 
The cultural center opened in 2003 and is owned, operated and funded in-part by West Valley City. The center applies for and receives several grants and other funding from organizations like Salt Lake County Zoos, Arts and Parks and the Utah Division of Arts and Museums.
The cultural center has a dual purpose, according to Christensen. He said that the cultural center acts as an available event center for people to conduct relevant events and as an arts and culture venue. 
“The cultural center is a place for people to come celebrate their own heritage and culture and learn about the traditions of their neighbors,” Christensen said.
Romney said that the pioneer games really help bring people together and have fun.
“They had fun and we need to know about what they knew about having fun,” Romney said noting that many pioneer games require a lot of participation and physical exertion, promoting stronger health and community in many ways.