Days of '47 has added a new event this year: a frontier camp.
The east plaza of EnergySolutions Arena will transform into the Wild West for the free event that coincides with the rodeo and offers festivalgoers a glimpse at five Old West communities: American Indians, mountain men, pioneers, buffalo soldiers and cowboys.
"We're doing five camps to show people what our Utah heritage is," said organizer Tom Whitacker.
It will include pony rides, wagon rides on the streets surrounding the arena and Dutch oven cooking. Each camp will also perform its own demonstrations. In the mountain men camp, for example, they will re-enact fur trades, and Eric Hash will hand-make and play wooden flutes, a hobby he's enjoyed for 20 years.
"We try to preserve the history," Hash said. "We try to show people there's other ways to do things."
At the American Indian camp, they will tell stories and play music, and the cowboys will present whip cracking, trick gunning and cattle branding.
Several people at the pioneer camp participated in the 1997 Pioneer Trek, a 1,000-mile journey from Florence, Neb., to the Salt Lake Valley, pulling handcarts all the way. John "Tennessee" Stewart trekked the trail and met his wife along the way. Before that, Stewart participated in the Bicentennial Wagon Train in Tennessee, and he's eager to tell the tales.
"We're all happy to share our stories," Stewart said.
In addition to the history, the encampment offers free outdoor concerts at 2 p.m. each day and also after the rodeo in the evenings. Several artists are set to perform, including Suzy Bogguss, Sourdough Slim and Hot Club of Cow Town.
The idea for the encampment came when Kem Gardner, chairman of the Days of '47 Rodeo, and his team brainstormed ways to get people in the stands. Whitacker planned a similar event at Soldier Hollow for the Olympics and suggested they give it a try.
"We're trying to make it more than just a rodeo," Whitacker said.
Cowboys and cowgirls have been roping cattle in the Days of '47 Rodeo for almost 100 years. The rodeo is already well-known in Utah, and its organizers want to make it nationally recognized.
"We're not there yet," Whitacker said, "but we're gonna be."
The Days of '47 Frontier Camp, which coincides with the rodeo, features five Old West communities: mountain men, American Indians, pioneers, buffalo soldiers and cowboys.
When • Friday, Saturday and Monday-Wednesday, July 19-20 and 22-24, 2 p.m. until after the rodeo.
Where • Energy Solutions Arena, 301 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City.
Cost • Free.