MANTI, Utah – Small business owners are raising concerns over an announcement from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that puts pageants into question.
The church released a statement Saturday discouraging large celebration, such as pageants – yearly large-scale performances that are put on in various places throughout the country presenting components of the faith.
One of the more notable pageants, the Mormon Miracle Pageant, has taken place in Manti, Utah for the last 51 years on the South Lawn of the Manti Temple. The event draws in tens of thousands of people every year, bolstering business in the area.
On any given day in Manti you may see a handful of cars on Main Street and the occasional customer popping into local restaurants and shops.
“The town only has a little over 3,500,” said long-time resident, Carrie Cox.
Cox owns Fred’s Sports Grill, one of the few places you can grab a bite to eat in the small town.
“We’re these little towns that are just trying to make a mark so we can have people come and have our businesses thrive,” said Cox.
Looking in the restaurant Saturday, you could see a sea of open booths, but come the yearly Mormon Miracle Pageant, “this place is hopping,” said Cox.
“Our business more than triples, if not quadruples during the pageant,” she added.
Cox said the business makes nearly 20 percent of their yearly earnings during those ten pageant days.
“It makes up the difference for the winter when we’re slower,” Cox said.
She believes the production is imperative, not just for them, but for the whole town.
“Manti does need the bit of revenue it does get, being a small town and pageant brings that,” said Cox. “It just makes a huge difference for our businesses."
When Cox heard the pageant could come to an end, she said, “My heart sunk, I became sad immediately.”
Nonetheless, she plans to support her church — even if it’s hard on business.
“They [church leaders] will, prayerfully look at this and look at the ramifications that can happen for the businesses and for the town of Manti and how important it is… but I will support them in whatever decision they make,” Cox said.
As of now, one pageant has announced they will be stopping production after their show in 2020 -- that is the large Hill Cumorah pageant in New York.