Tuacahn, Utah's newest tourist attraction and performing arts center, was dedicated over the weekend with praise, prayer and predictions of worldwide fame.
Likening Tuacahn's red-cliff surroundings to a tabernacle, President Gordon B. Hinckley of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offered the dedicatory prayer Saturday following a day of celebration at the new facility.President Hinckley said the dedicatory ceremony represented the fruition of pioneering efforts that began 141 years ago with the arrival of Mormon settlers to southern Utah.
"Jacob Hamblin and Dudley Leavitt and others with him walked back and forth across this desert land from Cedar City to Las Vegas," President Hinckley said, describing the pioneers' harrowing experiences and brushes with death. "They had floods, drought, pestilence, but they kept the faith."
In his tribute to the pioneers, President Hinckley said, "We remember them with grateful respect, and now we have pioneers of a different kind. A new generation has created this great facility, desiring to share it with the travelers."
He predicted people from all over the world will visit Tuacahn, making it an important center of entertainment, education and development.
Privately developed by the Heritage Arts Foundation, the 80-acre Tuacahn Center for the Performing Arts is located 10 miles northwest of St. George in the box-shaped Padre Canyon.
The project was the brainchild of author/-play-wright Doug Stewart, who named it after a Mayan phrase meaning "canyon of the gods." In addition to an amphitheater nestled amid the red-rock cliffs, the center has an indoor theater, classrooms, studios and full support facilities.
In his remarks Saturday, Stewart said, "I remember the words spoken by Spencer W. Kimball: `Blessed is the man with a dream and new worlds to conquer.' I am indeed a fortunate man, for I, too, dreamed and had new worlds to conquer."
The audience was welcomed by foundation president Hyrum Smith, who quipped, "We hope you did not disturb the turtles on your way in," a reference to the endangered desert tortoise, whose presence at the site at one point threatened to halt work on the project.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir was featured at the dedicatory ceremony, performing familiar LDS hymns and concluding with the Star Spangled Banner.
"It is fitting for the Tabernacle Choir to be present for these dedicatory ceremonies, for this (canyon) too is a tabernacle, a part of the divinity that is within each of us," President Hinckley said.
"The home of the choir is the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City with the mighty organ that swells and delights the ear, but a part of that mighty organ comes from the Pine Valley Mountains of southern Utah. There is straight, firm white pine wood in that organ, and so we are bound, all of us, by the goodness and fibers of this state."