West Valley City (West Valley City, UT)


Two women in colorful dresses and a man in a Mexican Hat face each other in a dance sequence

Ballet Folklorico Citlali performs at the Tradition Bearers Festival in West Valley City, Utah. Photo by Michael Christensen

West Valley City, Utah's second-largest city, is nestled in the Salt Lake Valley between the Wasatch and Oquirrh mountain ranges. In FY 2004, West Valley City received an NEA Heritage & Preservation grant of $10,000 to support the Tradition Bearers Festival, a day-long folklife celebration.

Held in August 2004, the free nine-hour festival directly supported West Valley's mission to identify, document, and preserve the ethnic arts and artists in the community and to introduce these traditions to the larger public. In the year leading up to the festival, West Valley City conducted fieldwork to identify the community's cultural groups in order to invite these groups to take part in the festival.

Festival programming included musical and dance performances on three stages, two folk art exhibition and demonstration areas, classrooms for informal crafts talks, a children's tent with hands-on arts activities and storytelling, and an ethnic food market. Thirteen performance groups took the stage at the festival including Cambodian Preah Vihear, a troupe of youth dancers performing traditional Khmer dances; Ballet Folklorico Citlali, known for spectacular dance choreographies of Mexico's Native American heritage; the Tongan Singers of Utah, traditional Tongan chanters and dancers; and the Utah Scottish Association J.T. Dunnie Pipe Band.

Participating artisans included Elizabeth Peterson, a bobbin lace specialist; Rocio Mejia, a piñata and paper flower maker; Earl Dent, a Hopi kachina maker; and the Southridge Quilters. More than 800 people visited the festival, which West Valley City hopes to make an annual event.

(From the 2004 NEA Annual Report)