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The City Journals

Draper Days marks its 20th anniversary with rodeo and family activities

Jul 06, 2021 02:54PM ● By Katherine Weinstein

he flag is formally presented at the opening of the 2017 Draper Days Rodeo. (Photo courtesy Katie Ovard-Smith/Draper Days Rodeo)

By Katherine Weinstein | [email protected]

Draper Days is back! The annual celebration of Draper’s community spirit and western pioneer heritage will mark its 20th anniversary this month with a rodeo, concert and movie night and a car show. Draper Nights returns as well with three whole nights of musical performances followed by fireworks displays. 

Doug Dredge, chair of Draper Days, acknowledged that this year’s events will be different from years past. “The difference this year is that we’re not doing any day activities. No parade or 5K run, no pickleball tournament or Scales and Tails,” Dredge explained. Vendor tents will also be missing from Draper Days this year. 

The pandemic, which forced the cancellation of last year’s Draper Days, has had an impact on the scope of this year’s events and complicated the planning process. “We had to wait until mass gathering restrictions were lifted,” explained LaVar Christensen, event manager and board member of the Draper Community Foundation. 

Planning for Draper Days and the Draper Nights concerts usually begins as early as January. At that time last winter, it was impossible to envision what a large-scale summer event might even look like. 

Organizers are accentuating the positive after a challenging year. Each event that comprises this year’s Draper Days will be “an opportunity to enjoy a night out with family, an opportunity to enjoy Draper and our incredible scenery,” Dredge said. 

The Draper Days Rodeo is returning with all of its usual events but will include a special presentation this year. “It’s our 20th year anniversary,” rodeo chairperson Katie Ovard-Smith said. “We will be bringing back all past rodeo queens on Saturday night. We’re celebrating the rodeo coming back as well as honoring the committee.”

Because of delays in planning due to the pandemic, there will be no new rodeo queen or attendants this year. “We got the OK [to have the rodeo] too late,” Ovard-Smith said. Aside from that, the main rodeo events will look much the same as they have in years past.  

Members of the Rocky Mountain Professional Rodeo Association will participate in bareback and saddle bronc riding, calf roping, team roping, barrel racing and bull riding. Austin Tingley, otherwise known as the Green Hat Clown, will display his trick riding skills for the pre-rodeo entertainment. 

The Draper Days Rodeo will take place July 9 and 10 at the Andy Ballard Arena, 1600 East Highland Drive. The pre-rodeo entertainment begins at 7:30 p.m. and the rodeo starts at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $7 for kids under 12. 

On the evening of Thursday, July 15, folks can enjoy a free concert at Draper Amphitheater by the band Exit Strategy, followed by a showing of Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon.” 

Steve Morton, bass player and lead singer for Exit Strategy said that the band is looking forward to Draper Days. “It ought to be a fun gig,” he said. “Our signature thing is that our music makes people want to get up and dance.” The audience at Draper Amphitheater will be encouraged to move and groove.

The three members of Exit Strategy have been playing together for 15 years. Self-described “software nerds,” they met at work and once won Fortune magazine’s “Battle of the Corporate Bands” contest. Drummer Brad Wilson is a resident of Draper while Morton and lead guitarist Tom Rhoton live in Utah country.

Exit Strategy’s repertoire includes covers by Bruno Mars, Blink 182, the Killers, Earth, Wind & Fire and The Weekend. When choosing songs to play, “the criteria for us is that it makes people want to move,” Morton said. The concert is appropriate for all ages. 

The recent Disney film, “Raya and the Last Dragon,” will be shown after the concert. The PG-rated animated movie tells the story of a young warrior in a mythical land who must find the dragon that can save her people from a threatening race of monsters. 

The concert and movie night will begin at 8 p.m. and run until approximately 11:15 p.m. Draper Amphitheater is located at 944 East Vestry Road in Draper. 

The final event planned for Draper Days will be a free car show to be held at Draper City Park from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 17. Organized by JC Hackett, the event will showcase dozens of vintage and collectible automobiles. Food vendors will be present at the car show. Draper City Park is located at 12500 S. 1300 East.

For more information on Draper Days and Draper Nights, visit www.draperutah.gov/776/Draper-Days