Winter in Green River is typically a time to hunker down by the fire at home. You can rarely find residents venturing outdoors in the Winter at night, except maybe en route to a Green River basketball game. (Go Pirates!) This year was a different story, though, as Epicenter in partnership with the City of Green River, hosted the first annual “Ignite the Night” on South Broadway in Green River to bring people together and celebrate the unveiling of new lighted signs on Main Street.
The evening got started with a bang! Quite a few bangs, actually: a custom fireworks display by Marisa Frantz and Lisa Ward. The display began as a slow-burning fuse that set off a highly-anticipated series of events that could best be described as a pyrotechnic Rube Goldberg machine. Though the fireworks were seen and heard for miles, up-close was the real show. The team had rigged up an elaborate “ladder” of sparkling fuses hung over the street that led to an unlit bonfire in front of the Green River Fire Department.
Once the bonfire erupted into flames, the team celebrated the successful chain reaction alongside an audience of over 60 spectators. The bonfire lighting signaled that it was time for s’mores, chili, hot cocoa, and a live music performance by Clive Romney and friends at the Green River Firehouse. Clive Romney, Executive Director of Utah Pioneer Heritage Arts, was joined by Hank Mason and Jana Wells of Grand Junction, Colorado. They sang original songs of Utah’s rural heritage, pioneers, and folktales. Armed with glow-bracelets and LED accessories, the all-ages audience swelled to over 80 participants who danced and sang along with the musicians.
Those in attendance hope this celebration can become an annual tradition. Epicenter Principal Maria Sykes explains, “We held this event in the dead of winter to bring people together during a time when we tend to be kind of reclusive in our homes. I love that we can do this sort of thing in Green River. To adapt a Phil Conners quote, ‘Standing amongst the people of Green River and basking in the warmth of their hearts, I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter.’ Sure, Ignite the Night will never be something as big as Groundhog Day, but it’s in the same spirit.”
Mayor Pat Brady shares, “I was not sure what to expect at Ignite the Nite. My expectations were greatly exceeded. The artists hired for the neon lights, the new welcome sign, and the fireworks were absolutely the right people to have done it. Clive Romney and his two vocalists were a perfect fit for the evening. Great lights, great music, great food, and a great crowd. Hopefully, next year even more of the community will participate.”
During the week leading up to the event, a team of designers and builders led by artist Lisa Ward had been busy completing the reason for the Ignite the Night celebrations: the creation and refurbishing of lighted signs on Main Street in a project called Green River Lights. Made possible through the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town Program, Epicenter created a new neon welcome sign for Green River (located on the South side of Main Street just West of the Green River Medical Center) and a new neon sign on the Green River Coffee Company, and partially refurbished the La Veracruzana sign, formerly the Ben’s Cafe sign. Clive Romney also held music and storytelling workshops throughout the week for the youth of Green River at the High School, Book Cliff Elementary, Pyramid Youth Programs (PACT), and the Green River Library.
Also unveiled at Ignite the Night was [light], a prototype for a lighted-bench designed in partnership with the University of Utah College of Architecture + Planning. [light] is currently on display in front of Epicenter (180 South Broadway, Green River, Utah), but will move to Main Street once more benches are fabricated and installed.
This project and event was made possible with support from: AmeriCorps VISTA, Ryan Baxter, Bryan Brooks, Erin Carraher, City of Green River, Alison Jean Cole, Steph Crabtree, Phil Engleman, Marisa Frantz, Amber Furrer, Mike Goode, The Green River Coffee Company, Green River EMS, Green River Fire Department, Jarod Hamm, Christopher Henderson, Mary Holyoke, La Veracruzana restaurant, Chris Lezama, Lite Brite Neon, Juan Lovato, Kitty Marshall, Hank Mason, Oregon Arts Commission, PACT, Gwen Peck, P&L Electrical, Sara Polito, Waly Pont, Justin Queen, The River Terrace Inn, Robber’s Roost Motel, Clive Romney, Sorenson Legacy Foundation, Nate Stapley, Maria Sykes, Steve & Juanita Sykes, University of Utah: College of Architecture + Planning, Utah Pioneer Heritage Arts, Lisa Ward, Lesa Weihing-Madsen, Jana Wells, Amy Wilmarth, Colin Zaug, and the Green River community.
Please visit our blog in the near future for a film by Ryan Baxter documenting the Green River Lights project and Ignite the Night event.
Epicenter invites Frontier Fellows to instigate collaborative art and design projects. The single-edition publishing project was facilitated by Frontier Fellows, Sarah Baugh and Nicole Lavelle, who worked with Green River High School students through a series of workshops to develop content for the newspaper. The paper contains 12 full-color pages and eight themed sections of content. There is also a 4-page, full-color poster insert containing content from the Green River Archives. This project was made possible through a partnership between Epicenter and the CHEER (Creating a Healthy Environment and Encouraging Respect) Coalition, and through a generous grant from the United Way of Eastern Utah. By working with the community, we worked to forge new contexts for collaborative design practice. This project served as a catalyst for community engagement and a strengthened sense of local identity in the small rural town of Green River (population 952). The people of Green River have responded favorably to the project. The paper release party was one of the most successful Green River community events in recent memory.
“I just can’t begin to tell you how proud I am.” —Pat Brady, Mayor of Green River
“Green River has never had such a positive portrayal.” —Jolene Dalton, Assistant Librarian, Green River Library
“The project was a great success.” —Conae Black, City Recorder, City of Green River.
“A new effort is being led in Green River to promote the town and the surrounding attractions by the Epicenter and a small group of business owners and managers with support from the City of Green River and the Emery County Travel Bureau. The Destination Green River website was the first step in publishing information and promoting attractions.”
“The website boasts many natural attractions, an events calendar, maps, and information on Green River’s tourism-based establishments. Interactive maps featuring GPS coordinates and drop pins include a map of all of the arches in the San Rafael Swell, a map of nearby petroglyph and pictograph sites, a map for rockhounds, and a map of mines in the San Rafael Swell.”
“In order to promote the website and provide printed resources, the group produced a series of daytrip leaflets that include Green River residents’ favorite spots to recommend to visitors passing through town: The Crystal Geyser, Black Dragon Canyon, Fossil Point, Lower Gray Canyon (Swasey’s Beach), and Sego Canyon. Each daytrip leaflet has detailed directions, suggested activities, and tips. Each also include a unique QR code that links to the Destination Green River website when scanned with a smartphone.”
“Mayor Pat Brady said, ‘I am excited about the efforts that are being done to promote Green River. This group has produced a great website and some really awesome brochures and pamphlets; indeed, Green River is not just a ‘stop over’, it’s a destination. This group has come up with some excellent ways to promote that fact and display our wonderful city.'”
“Mike McCandless said, ‘We have so many unique attractions and landmarks in our area, it would be a shame to keep knowledge of them to ourselves. These beautifully laid out brochures (working in conjunction with the Destination Green River website) let travelers know what we already know, that Emery County is the ideal place to stop, stay, eat and play.'”
(via the Emery Country Progress)