Coming back to Joe’s Valley after a 2 year hiatus felt like we had come home, after what felt like significantly longer than 2 years. I have missed the people and the place like a piece of me was misplaced.
This year was the first where I was able to fully step away from my roles as Marketing Manager and Sponsorship Coordinator. Patrick and Katherine are in the drivers’ seats, respectively, and I took on a Master’s in Public Health program.
I still don’t have the words to encompass how honored I felt to witness where the Fest is at now. On the drive back to Bishop, Spenser and I looked back to the beginning. How the Joe’s Valley Fest came to be feels like a series of disjointed events: a bunch of boulderers living in the dirt, a town clean-up, and a message from Amanda to the Joe’s Valley Bouldering Facebook page.
With this message, Amanda reached Steven Jeffrey and his then-girlfriend, now-wife Adriana Chimaras. I’ve never looked back on these messages until today. I thought this one below is particularly hilarious. Just goes to show how little we knew about event planning at the time…
The Fest sure has morphed through the years. From the frigid inaugural Fest in 2015 where we realized this was going to be a lot more work than we imagined, and that Thanksgiving was not a good time for a Festival in central Utah. To the sunny and small one in 2016 when we first introduced Local Artisan Clinics that have become integral to the Festival (Makin’ Beef Jerky was the original!). To the first one we sold out in 2017 where it felt like the momentum was building, the same year we decided to turn the Fest into a 501c3 nonprofit. To 2018 when we were awarded the Economic Impact Award from the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation and we realized we were really making a difference. To a holy-crap-we’ve-made-it point in 2019 when Reel Rock decided to make a film about the story. Immediately followed the gut-punch low of 2020, when we decided to hold a hybrid virtual/in-person Fest amidst a global pandemic.
What I’ve recently learned through one of my classes is that the Mission Statement is often a critical guiding light when creating a sustaining business. And maybe that’s what has kept us afloat because, through the metamorphoses of the Fest, our Mission has been what we continue to return to when we don’t know what to do.
And 2021 felt like the start of the pay off.
It felt like everyone just got it this year. Climbers came to Joe’s Valley to attend the Festival: to learn how to make copper jewelry, to ride a bull, to paint Fatty’s during Stewardship Sunday, and to laugh and enjoy the company of Emery County locals. And Emery County reciprocated.
I can’t thank our original squad enough for sticking with it through the ups and downs, and to our new core team for taking our vision and making the Fest better than we could have ever imagined it. To all the volunteers, participants, and sponsors – thank you for supporting us and believe in the mission. Full speed ahead to 2022!