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Focus on Nauvoo during stake celebration

Pioneer city is the backdrop for telling of Church's history

CENTERVILLE, Utah — The scope of the "Nauvoo, Centerville" open house was impressive, growing out of what was, in the beginning, planned as a Primary quarterly activity of the Centerville Utah North Stake.

Covering the expansive field behind the Willow Wood Ward meetinghouse, the event, billed "Restoration Celebration, The Prophet and Places," drew more than a thousand people to its displays and activities on Saturday afternoon, Aug. 27. The focus was on the Nauvoo period with the centerpiece a replica of the Nauvoo Temple, on loan from the Lindon Utah West Stake, rising over 20 feet to the top of its tower. (The Lindon stake held a similar event in May; see Church News, June 11, 2005, p. 15.) There were also representations of the Red Brick Store, a bakery, a school and a blacksmith shop.

"Everyone put their talents in a barrel and this is what came out," said Stake President Gary Porter. He added, "I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for the vision of the committees" who organized it. The event was blessed with spiritual blessings as the stake carried out its tribute to Joseph Smith commemorating the 200th anniversary of his birth and a celebration of the 175th anniversary of the Church.

Among the activities were re-enactments inside the meetinghouse of important events of the Restoration, including the First Vision and the organizing of the Church.

Everything else was out on the field where everyone was welcome to take part.

Stew, bread and jam, and watermelon were served to all-comers who wanted to eat. Todd Smith, the high council member who oversaw the event, said more than 1,500 people were served. Homemade stew gave way toward the end to canned stew as the stake made good on its determination to feed everyone.

A steady parade of musical and dancing talents played out on the bandstand. There were handcarts to be pulled, stilts to walk on, ropes to make and cookies to bake. Numerous quilts were on display, including as a backdrop for Lucy Mack Smith, played by several women of the stake, telling stories about her son, Joseph.

For those wanting to serve, there were tables of muslin dolls to be stuffed and dressed in hospital gowns for donation to young patients at the Primary Children's Medical Center.

"The stake was blessed with people willing to consecrate their time and talents," Brother Smith said as he watched over a field full of people enjoying a beautiful summer evening in the park-like setting. Planning began in February, he said, and quickly materialized from the beginning of setup on Saturday morning. It ran from 4-8 p.m. He noted that many people from outside the stake attended.

E-mail to: ghill@desnews.com