COLUMN: A Weekend for Celebration

Harry Caines contributes a weekly column to Harry is a resident of Logan and an alumnus of Utah State University. He can be reached via email at His column is a work of opinion, and does not reflect the views of Cache Valley Daily, the Cache Valley Media Group, or its employees. 

On the weekend of October 7th, something wonderful will happen in Cache Valley. Three major cultural events will take place in Logan on that Friday and Saturday that will be worth your time, money and support.

I have used this space many times to lament the dearth of cultural events in Cache Valley. I have assailed the Powers That Be in Northern Utah for doing close to nothing regarding the exodus of disposable income that is eventually spent in Idaho, Salt Lake City and the Ogden area. Not now.

October 7th and 8th is going to be the weekend that Cache Valley holds events that will shift the cultural and social climate of this area. And, by doing so, will also open up avenues of economic growth that Cache Valley has only be seeking by attempting to woo chain restaurants and low-end retail shopping.

The event taking place on both days is ‘The Block film and art festival”. This two day event is set up specifically to showcase the best in independent filmmaking. The festival will also include over 30 musical acts playing at four different venues. I have long been a fan of Cache Valley’s local music scene. One of the best things anyone living in this area can do is sit at a local eatery or music hall and listen to the plethora of stunningly talented musicians perform.

I spoke with Mason Johnson, co-creator of “The Block”. He told me that this inaugural festival is an opportunity for residents of Cache Valley to have a “film festival experience” that this area can embrace. Johnson said that “The Block” was inspired by and is patterned after such events as the “Life Is Beautiful” festival in Las Vegas and the “Telluride Film Festival” held annually in Colorado. The main object, Johnson told me, was to offer a “unique downtown experience”.

Along with music and film, many forums on social issues and informative talks on the craft of filmmaking will be offered. The full list of venues for the films, music and forums can be found at the festival’s website, <a href=”” target=”_blank”></a>. This site is expected to be updated up to and including the days of the events. Ticket pricing and locations are also available at the site. They are not expensive.

And, yes, as much as it pains me to add this caveat to my column, there will be many “family-friendly” films and events at “The Block”. Johnson informed me that all of the events will list any objectionable content that may be included. “There will be something for everyone,” Johnson assured me.

And that leads me to the second event, which has become my absolute favorite thing to do in Cache Valley. The bi-monthly Gallery Walk has moved off its traditional date of the second Friday of each even-numbered month to coincide with the other events of the 7th and 8th. The Gallery Walk will take place on Friday, October 7th, from 6-9 p.m.

It is fitting, proper and logical for the organizers of the Gallery Walk to move the event. Having the local art galleries open that are located smack in the middle of Downtown Logan will add a heightened sense that the weekend is an “it event”. Music, movies, art. The original and more intellectual version of MMA. I’m in!

And this leads us to the third event. On Saturday, the 8th, <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Logan Pride Festival</a> will be the first attempt at a holding an organized LGBTQ in Cache Valley pride festival in two decades. I cannot express my joy that an event like this is being held in Cache Valley.

The event, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the open lot at 37 West Center Street, near the Waffle Iron, will be a celebration of music, food, youth activities, poetry and selected speeches. This event has been a long time coming for members of the LGBTQ community in Cache Valley.

I believe that a fair assessment of the general feeling towards the gay community when I first moved to Utah in 2004 could be described as simmering contempt. Utah still has a long ways to go as a whole in accepting the LGBTQ community fully. It is remarkable progress for an event of this nature to be held in a town that has to be pulled like a mule out of 1950’s thinking.

In its news release, Logan Pride Festival lists itself as “a celebration of shared values and is a way to entertain and engage not only the LGBTQ community, but our friends, families and allies.” Deft wording. Those who still cling to archaic ideas of what it means to be gay could benefit greatly from seeing the love and acceptance that will be shared at this event.

When I spoke to Turner Bitton, the Logan Pride Festival Director, I asked him what was the most profoundly important event of the day. He quickly stated that it was an interfaith service to be held at 9 a.m. that morning at the First Presbyterian Church on Center Street.

It may surprise some people to know that many members of the LGBTQ community are of a strong religious faith. LIke any who find comfort in the belief of a higher power, those who are gay can feel great solace in the knowledge that they are loved by God.

I spoke to Derek Forbes, who is the presiding pastor at “First Pres”. His exuberance at hosting this event oozed out of the phone. When I asked him his level of excitement at being the host for the service, he quickly told me it was “10 out of 10.” Based on his voice, I think it went to 11.

I am a cynical man. I do not adhere to any organized religion. Yet, speaking to Pastor Forbes briefly on the phone, I felt as if the Light of Christ was embodied in his spirit. If he can have that effect on a hard-hearted skeptic like me, then I envy the congregation that gets to hear his sermons every Sunday.

The other churches that will participate in the service are St. John’s Episcopal Church, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church and the Cache Valley Unitarian Universalists. If there are others I omitted, I would like to know about them. They deserve to be recognized for their participation.

One final note. I was happy to find out that Logan’s elected officials have been overwhelmingly supportive of this event. When I asked Mason Johnson about his discussions with the Logan City Council, he called them “nothing but supportive.” Turner Bitton said they were “a dream to work with.” To hear that Mayor Petersen and the various members of the Logan City Council have embraced what these events can bring to Cache Valley almost makes me feel guilty for criticizing them on other issues. Almost.

This is a big deal. The event scheduled for October 7th and 8th can help destroy the stereotype of Cache Valley being a homophobic, culturally dead wasteland. The success of that mission relies heavily on us. We should all embrace these events. I sincerely hope we do.

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