Final Season of Manti Pageant is Underway
MANTI, Utah – It’s opening night and the final run for the annual Manti pageant. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced last fall that the production of the pageant would end after this season.
Pageant officials estimate over the 400-plus performances dating back to 1967, about four million people have watched the pageant.
That is a staggering number when you consider just 3,000 people live in Manti. A volunteer effort each summer, by many in these local communities.
But as the pageant begins this year, the feeling is different knowing that in just 10 days the pageant will come to an end.
“It is mixed feelings and I can see us coming again next week to see another night of it, because it is so special,” said Kathie Giles, a resident of Fairview.
The pageant began as a one-time, one-night show, in July 1967 to honor the pioneers. Organizers later decided to make it an annual event and by 1970 it blossomed into an eight night production, attracting tens of thousands to this small town.
“So it is hard to believe when the pageant started I was 18 years old,” said Doug Barton, who set up the lights for that first show. He’s overseen the technical aspects of the pageant now for the past 50 years.
“There is a lot of excitement about this final season, but I think people are sad to see it go. It has changed a lot of lives, it has brought people closer together, especially families,” he added.
The pageant recounts early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with scenes portrayed from the Book of Mormon and the story of Mormon Pioneers, including those who settled the Sanpete Valley.
“I never thought it would end, I never dreamed I would be in it again,” said Manti resident Ken Olsen. He was the first to portray General Mormon when the pageant moved to the temple hill in 1968.
His father Richard took on the role for the next 34 years. Now Olsen will once again play the part of Mormon in this final season.
“It has not just been a Manti thing, it is just amazing to see how many people continue to come and I know will come this year,” he added.
Even though many people have seen the pageant over the years, organizers are preparing to accommodate above average crowds this year, setting up more than 15,000 chairs, for those who want to enjoy the pageant for the last time.
The pageant begins each evening at 9:15 p.m. on temple hill in Manti. No tickets are required, but come early for the best seating. It will run through next
Saturday June 22nd, except for Sunday and Monday.
RELATED LINK: http://mantipageant.org/
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