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‘Touches all the emotions’

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CASTLE DALE, Utah — With live animals and authentic structures, the Castle Valley Pageant is more of an "experience" than a "performance," said Sandra Swasey, costume director for the pageant. It has become a means of re-living the pioneer past, not merely viewing it.

The 23rd annual presentation of the Castle Valley Pageant ended Aug. 4 much the way it began years earlier — with visitors exploring the 20-acre site prior to the presentation. Visitors strolled among the various permanent structures, such as the dugout carved in the hillside, an authentic cabin, a rock house, pond and various teepees, wagons and tents and, in the process, came to feel what early settlers felt when they arrived in the latter 1800s.

During the pageant, spectators hear animal sounds, smell stew cooking over an open fire, and see the desert panorama laid out before them. Among the scenes portrayed in the pageant are families struggling with the emotions of moving. The audience feels some of the reluctance and anxiety the settlers felt. They also see the faith, devotion and peace demonstrated by the pioneers.

"The pageant touches all of the human emotions," said Montell Seely, pageant founder and script author. Brother Seely and his wife, Kathryn, were honored as grand marshals of the Emery County Fair this year for their steady support.

"When people think of the pageant, we want them to remember many things," Brother Seely said. "They can taste, smell and feel it, as well as see it. It is a complete experience."