Days of '47 back in control of name, rodeo event

Court • Lawsuit settled over right to use the phrase, "Days of '47."
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Two nonprofits feuding over one of Utah's premiere celebrations quietly settled their differences days before the marquee event.

The Days of '47 Inc. and Days of '47 Rodeo Inc. jointly asked a U.S. District Court judge to dismiss a civil lawsuit filed earlier this year over who had the legal right to use the signature phrase to describe and promote their activities.

The Days of '47 Inc. had accused the rodeo organization and director Brad Harmon of hijacking the event by taking control of funds, assets, sponsors, contacts and rodeo equipment. Days of '47 Rodeo, in turn, was seeking exclusive rights to the rodeo event's name.

While Harmon denied the accusations, "it wasn't worth the fight to him," said David J. Williams, one of his attorneys. "He felt it was better for him and his family, rather than spending a lot of money on legal fees, to settle and move on. He decided he would not have anything to do with the Days of '47 Rodeo, especially given that his mother and son were still involved with the rodeo committee."

The Days of '47 Inc. has put on Salt Lake City's annual Pioneer Day festivities, which pay homage to the Mormon pioneers who settled in Utah, for more than 70 years. The celebration includes a parades, pageant, a concert and the rodeo — a big draw that helps fund the other activities.

It claimed that Harmon, appointed as chairman of the rodeo committee in 1997, quietly created a separate business entity for the rodeo in 2002 without informing or getting approval from the Days of '47 Inc. It also alleged Harmon began running the rodeo event through that separate organization in 2010. He was fired in February, days before Days of '47 Inc. filed a lawsuit asserting its right to the rodeo, the event's name and all its assets. The lawsuit also alleged Harmon's conduct breached his fiduciary duties.

All assets, including rodeo equipment and rights to the name, were returned to Days of '47 Inc. as part of dropping the dispute.

"We felt like everything we were looking for in our complaint we were able to get in the settlement," said Bryan M. Scott, an attorney for the Days of '47 Inc.