Making HomeTown History!

2015 was an eventful year! Change was in the air… a renewed excitement was being reborn throughout the Short Creek Valley and it all started with a phone call from George Jessop…

George and I grew up in the same era… My Grandfather raised his mother so we shared more than just our hometown; we shared memories of family activities, community activities as well as being peers in school. However, the religious and political environment found us on opposite sides of the “issues” in the early 1980’s so although we always remained friendly, our social interactions ended.

In 2014 George and I reconnected while planning a High School Reunion for our respective classes. 2014 marked 30 years for my class and 29 for his. George & Miriam had recently exited the FLDS and their culinary talents made them perfect targets for the class planning committees. George & Miriam were cautiously excited to reconnect with peers and soon became a vital part of the reunion. I was honored to reconnect with George and Miriam quickly earned my respect as his partner. The two of them were a huge part of the reunion’s success as we treasured the memories of past and present.

George and I connected again a few months later, and along with Willie Jessop, hosted a Thanksgiving Dinner at Willies Bed & Breakfast, serving over 450 people! The experience of serving unconditionally was priceless, and once again George & Miriam were vital contributors to the success!

Early in 2015, while George was driving truck on the ore haul, he called and asked me what I thought of hosting a July 4th event in Colorado City… an event where everyone would be welcome, with the intention to create healing in relationships with friends, family and rebuilding our hometown! I was instantly enrolled!!!

As I look back the project was much larger than anticipated but well worth the effort. George would spend hours on the phone everyday while driving the return trip from Blanding, Utah, calling anyone and everyone he could, to enroll them in the project. We expected around 500 people to attend but obviously hoped for more. There was so much work to be done, cleaning up the park, raising money to cover the costs, organizing volunteers for all the various activities, coordinating with city and county governments, which were uncooperative at best, advertising and promoting the event, and organizing the entire project to be ready by the day of celebration. It was a daunting task with HUGE demands. George had good days and challenging days. When someone he called would “rain on his parade” he would check with his team to get re-energized and when his calls were successful he would ignite the rest of us with his enthusiasm!! It was exhausting yet highly rewarding and by the time the event was completed, over 4000 attended!!!

History was made that day! Words cannot express the awesome “Space” created during the event. We acknowledged that many gathered, having previously suffered pain and persecution from friends, family, church and everything they held near and dear. We invited everyone to set the differences aside, and focus on what we shared in common.. This was our hometown, the place of our birth, the roots of our heritage, and to remember the good times, the happy memories and the positive social interactions from days gone by. We witnessed perpetrators apologizing to those they wronged, friends and family reconnecting after decades… It was like a sacred bomb of love and healing was dropped on the park that day… There were even marriages resulting from the events of that day.

Today the challenge lives on.. Each year George rallies a team of volunteers to fund and produce the event. Unlike surrounding communities, where the cities support and oversee community events, we actually have a unique opportunity.. The opportunity for the residents to champion the cause, take ownership for the success and instill community pride, patriotism, and a respect for our heritage that is only possible though being involved. George & Team are early adopters, visionaries, and forward thinking individuals who “Be the Change They Want to See in Their HomeTown!” We are ALL invited to follow their example.

Please support in any way you can… Plan to attend, bring your family and help us create a world class “Family Friendly” environment where we all honor and celebrate the sacrifices made by our forefathers, to provide the freedom and opportunities we have today! Thank You George & Team for your efforts in our behalf!!

-HJ Dockstader Jr

History Fact about the 4th during the church days

Our bishop, Uncle Fred asked Raymond and I to serve lamb for breakfast at the 4th of July in the early-mid 90’s. We started with 4 gallon a stock pot the first year we served it and when breakfast was over and the community passed through the food line we had leftovers. At this  same time we prepared 800 lbs of potatoes for the single breakfast event and it was totally consumed by the people.  after several seasons of serving lamb for breakfast it started becoming popular. the last year we served lamb was 2001 during the fall harvest fest which was a three day event. on this event we served 30 lambs, 10 lambs each day. The lambs were served separate from the other food line and each day it only took 2 hours and the lamb was gone each day. There was people that made comments like they would never eat that meat, but on this last day most of the people that made a comment like that was eating it and had come back for as many as 3 servings of the meat. Uncle Fred was pretty happy, people just didn’t know how to cook it and so they wouldn’t take it from the church store house and that was what he was trying to do is get people to take it from the store house.

Fun Fact

In our planning and conversations we was trying to come up with something that had some meaning to bringing people to this event, or even back to the community. Miriam suggested to install Yellow ribbon around some trees at the park. The yellow ribbon has the significance of welcome home. In my conversations with many people I was talking to Dr Brent Noorda and the discussion of the yellow ribbon came up. He said I would like to sponsor the yellow ribbon. Thank you Brent for your care of people returning home. The ribbon was 6″ wide, we purchased 300′, you can see the ribbon in some of the photos.

Fun Fact

One of the very first conversations Miriam and I (George the founder) had when we started this 4th of July was she and I was talking to Phil Mackart Jr and Greg Barlow at their work place.  I presented the idea of 4th breakfast. Greg pulled $100 bill from his wallet and handed it to me, I tried to refuse it because this now got real, I now had an obligation taking that money, he refused to take it back. Greg was the first person to donate to this amazing event. Had he taken the money back it could have stalled for another season.

Returning home

My name is Bygnal Dutson Jr
I was born and raised in Hildale, and I have experienced through my life many of the changes that took place in our community. Many have asked me how does these kinds of things happen to so many people. Like I said I have seen the changes it’s a very slow process and you can’t throw all the history into one day. I am very open and honest about what I see here and I would like to add that this effort is not to re-create what was but to realize that we allowed ourselves to let go of who we are. This has also changed my own views on religion, God , and many other things in life. For me it has caused me to review The way I see our country, The way I view the different kinds of people that live in our country. It has also caused me to want to give all men and women the room and the freedom to choose whatever they may. I don’t care who you are what color your skin is or where you came from. As long as your motive is to better our country.
I was excommunicated in 2005. And I was gone until 2015. Just the changes in those years are enough to write a whole book. I am very embarrassed at the actions of my people. The things that they have agreed to do all in the name of God is actually completely against our original believes.
However this effort of the SC Festivities is something that I personally support simply because those who are heading this up are non-bias
They are deeply involved in the rebuilding of a shattered community. They want to see change not only in our community but in humanity as well. I am aware that there are many people who used to call this home and have been very burned by many things that have transpired. Many have said they will never set foot in this community again. I just want to say to anyone who is reading I really don’t blame you in fact I said the same things, so here is an invitation. You are invited to leave all that behind and spend one day in 2018 with myself and many others who seek healing and just want to reminisce the good times. I for one am very much aware of what you have gone through. There’s things that take a lifetime to heal. I do know that a good Conversation with good friends is very healing. Yes leaving the past behind is very much the goal. But sometimes the conversation is what causes that to go away. I have spent the last 15 years of my life learning what it takes to rebuild and I wouldn’t trade the experiences for anything.

Last year I was asked to present the Silver saddle in the parade which was an honor for me to do. For those who don’t know it the Silver saddle has been used in years past and Our “ respected” Community fathers rode that saddle. It is a huge piece of our community. And also the history of how it survived the Jeffs dynasty is amazing.
It is my hope that it can be used again this year and the families of those who have greater knowledge on it than I do will assist with it
I also want to write that anyone and everyone is welcome here you don’t have to know someone to show up come and be a part of our celebration just like any other community.
Come and celebrate with us this year and let us never forget what our forefathers did and why we are as blessed as we are today. Thank you for reading
Bygnal Dutson Jr

My experience of the 4th of July

My name is Terrill Musser. 3 Years ago, a good friend of mine called me and said “Do you think if I did a Dutch oven breakfast for the 4th of July anyone would show up” I told him I thought if he put the word out he could get a lot of folks to come. That man was George Jessop. He is the Founder of the SC Festivities and is apart of the change and healing in this area. This is exactly what was needed at this time in this area. A place that anyone no matter their beliefs or backgrounds everyone was welcome even anyone from out of town. It was truly open to all. That first 4th of July and all the others there was so much healing created. I saw sons reconnecting with fathers they had not seen in many years. I witnessed true love and peace. I saw Mothers finding their long-lost children and embracing them for long periods of time. It was like the world just stop for us and gave us that moment. I saw so many people from so many backgrounds come together on common grounds and work together to create the perfect day. After the first 4th of July there was an increase of people that moved back home it was that powerful and life changing for so many.

This event year by year is put on by the people and for the people and it takes us all working together to create this amazing event. Please help by donating your time or your money so we can keep creating this healing days and celebrating our Independence Day.

Our First Experience

Originally from Southern California, we had been living in Colorado City for over a year when we attended our first 4th of July Festival in 2017. Excited to be a part of the community, our family assisted with the games and prizes.

The day started with a fantastic community parade, where families and children lined the streets to watch the police, horses, bikes, firetrucks, floats, music and much more.

The event takes place in Cottonwood Park that sits in the middle of town and has an incredible amount of space to spread out and offer a variety of booths, vendors, events and activities. The entire day was jam-packed with a stream of people enjoying everything from delicious food, root beer floats and sweet treats, to train rides through the park, helicopter rides of the valley, games, music, face painting, and a dunk tank; to unique things to buy and handmade crafts. Many local businesses participated with their own booths and we were amazed to see that the park was consistently full of people. We found that many people come from out of town to Colorado City specifically for this event, including people that grew up in the town and have since moved away. We saw relatives reuniting, business relationships being formed, kids laughing and playing and we loved the tight knit community feel of the event.

The day concluded with a spectacular fireworks show over the city and we are eager to be a part of the festivities again in 2018!

scfestivities founder and organizer

My name is George Jessop founder of Short Creek Festivities. When we started talking about doing a 4th of July breakfast in 2015 I didn’t realize our greatest weakness was our strength, Had we known how huge this event was going to become, we may not have had the courage to pursue it.

Our community was a ghost town compared to previous times. Community functions were stopped in 2002 when Rulon Jeffs our form religions leader decreed there were to be no more social events. Miriam and I talked about moving away in 2012 but when we realized what it was going to take to move we changed our minds. We decided to stay, but we wanted to see change. What could we do to make a change in such a crazy awkward place like this, with out the friends we once had??

It had been 13 years since the last community celebration, which Miriam and I had been involved in by preparing dutch oven style food for breakfast. When we did food for these past events we served dutch oven potatoes for thousands. I came home one day and asked Miriam if she would help me make a small 4th breakfast for friends and anyone else that would like to come. She said YES, even after we swore we wouldn’t ever cook for the community again.

From there it began. We launched the event on facebook thinking we would end up preparing food for 250-500 people. But as the 4th got closer the confirmed numbers began to increase. Traditionally these breakfasts had been free, which we wanted to continue. That meant we needed donations. I called about 10 people nearly every day for 4 months, There were some individuals I called every week until the day of the 4th trying to get the necessary help and gather funds. The day before the 4th we had confirmed numbers near 2000. On the day of, we had an estimated 4500-5000 people come to this event. The first ever Short Creek community event that was not dictated and funded by the FLDS.

As the day went on the emotions were high, people were so hungry for each others association. Many of these people were removed by the church leaders by being sent away to repent, some left being branded all sorts evil. People having been gone anywhere from 2-15 years, some longer. There was so much healing that took place through the day, happiness was seen again in Short Creek. Since the first 4th in 2015 people have returned to these communities. There has been so much change, many people who once lived here had no desire to even step foot in this place have return. The new opportunities we have are over whelming.

The changes that have had an impact were not only the 4th, but the flood that took some of the community members when 14 people died. The love that was expressed and showed for each other during these times of stress have been a very powerful healing moment for many people.