LOGAN – Logan Mayor Holly Daines made a point of justifying her decision to cancel the city’s annual Freedom Fire concert and fireworks display during the April 21 meeting of the Logan City Council.
Freedom Fire is traditionally held on July 3 as Logan’s celebration of Independence Day on the Utah State University Campus. The mayor’s statement to the council members came just hours after the organizers of the Cache Valley Cruise-In confirmed that their classic car show would go ahead as scheduled July 2 to 4.
“Our problem was that this is the time when all the contracts for the Freedom Fire event have to be signed,” Daines explained. “Right now, the university isn’t signing any contracts. They cancelled their annual Summer Citizens Program. They sent students home. They’re just very concerned about large gatherings of people on the USU campus (due to the Coronavirus outbreak), as are we.
“We’ve been asked why don’t we just shoot off the fireworks display in an empty stadium. And we could that. But the costs would be very much the same. People would then likely just congregate around the stadium. How do you safely manage that?”
Planning to go ahead with Freedom Fire in the hope that statewide social distancing and self-isolation guidelines would be relaxed by July would have been risky from a dollars and cents perspective as well, the mayor argued. Much of the revenue that makes the event possible comes from ticket sales that would not be possible if those guidelines were still in effect.
“We just can’t imagine that by July 3, when our fireworks would be scheduled, that the state is going to allow large gatherings again,” she said.
Soliciting sponsorships for the event would also have been challenging, according to Daines.
“How would sponsors react,” she asked, “given all this uncertainty about whether there would be people in the stadium?”
The financial risk of moving ahead with Freedom Fire was further complicated by the fact that Logan’s sales tax revenues have undoubtedly been adversely impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.
“The event just wasn’t possible unless we could plan and organize it now,” the mayor concluded. “So, we just decided to take a break this year due to these extraordinary circumstances.”
Other Cache Valley summer entertainment events to fall victim to the statewide social distancing guidelines have included 2020 season of the Lyric Repertory Company and the Summerfest Arts Faire. The Western Spring National Holstein Show, traditionally held in Richmond as part of the city’s Black & White Day celebration, has also been postponed.