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Sting is coming to Utah to celebrate ‘America’s greatest idea’

While Zion is Utah’s first national park and is popular within America’s national park system, it’s also known and beloved around the world. Which is why an international rock star is coming to Utah to celebrate Zion’s 100-year milestone as a national park.

Backed by the Utah Symphony, Sting will perform his greatest hits — everything from “Roxanne” to “Fields of Gold” — on Aug. 31 at USANA Amphitheatre in West Valley City.
Backed by the Utah Symphony, Sting will perform his greatest hits — everything from “Roxanne” to “Fields of Gold” — on Aug. 31 at USANA Amphitheatre in West Valley City.
Martin Kierszenbaum

SALT LAKE CITY — At Zion National Park, you can hear several languages in the span of an hour.

That’s what Lyman Hafen has discovered working as the executive producer of Zion National Park Forever Project, the park’s official nonprofit partner. It’s his constant reminder that while Zion is Utah’s first national park and is popular within America’s national park system, it’s also known and beloved around the world. In fact, Zion National Park attracted 4.3 million visitors in 2018 and was No. 4 on National Geographic’s Top 10 list of most popular national parks, beating out Yellowstone and Yosemite, among others.

Zion National Park attracted 4.3 million visitors in 2018 and was No. 4 on National Geographic’s Top 10 list of most popular national parks, beating out Yellowstone and Yosemite among others.
Zion National Park attracted 4.3 million visitors in 2018 and was No. 4 on National Geographic’s Top 10 list of most popular national parks, beating out Yellowstone and Yosemite, among others.
Provided by Zachary Almaguer

Which is why an international rock star is coming to Utah to celebrate Zion’s 100-year milestone as a national park.

Backed by the Utah Symphony, Sting will perform his greatest hits — everything from “Roxanne” to “Fields of Gold” — on Aug. 31 at USANA Amphitheatre in West Valley City. The concert will generate revenue for the Zion Forever Project, which pays for programs and projects not ordinarily covered by the National Park Service budget.

A big part of the Zion Forever Project’s mission is to provide the resources necessary to keep up with Zion National Park’s growing number of visitors, while at the same time preserving the park.

“Visitation has virtually doubled since 10 years ago,” Hafen told the Deseret News. “It wasn’t that long ago that we had 2.5 million visitors in the park. The infrastructure and everything that goes on in Zion is pretty much set up for 2 to 3 million visitors, but here we are now at 4.3 million.”

Sting will perform with the Utah Symphony on Aug. 31 as part of a centennial celebration for Zion National Park.
Sting will perform with the Utah Symphony on Aug. 31 as part of a centennial celebration for Zion National Park.
Eric Ryan Anderson

And what did it take to get Sting on board for a benefit concert? Imagery of southern Utah’s red rocks and an explanation of the Zion Forever Project’s mission made a great case for the musician, who is also an environmentalist. Sting co-founded the Rainforest Foundation Fund in 1989 with his wife, Trudie Styler, to help protect the world’s rainforests and the indigenous people living there. Sting and Styler have also supported other human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Live AID, and held 18 benefit concerts to raise funds and awareness for Earth’s endangered resources, according to zionpark.org.

“We had some really awesome stuff to share with him,” Hafen said. “He was very enthusiastic and supportive about this concert, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Zion and supporting its future.”

U.S. President Woodrow Wilson declared Zion a national park 100 years ago this November. But Zion isn’t the only national park celebrating its centennial. Earlier this year, the Grand Canyon also reached its century mark, and three years ago was the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary.

“It was a monumental concept and a monumental time in our history as a country when these great national parks were coming into being. And so, 100 years later, we’re remembering that and we’re commemorating America’s greatest idea: our national parks,” Hafen said. “With the Forever Project … a lot of this effort is to remember the past and remember what’s gotten us here, but to also look at the next 100 years and how we continue to preserve … these amazing treasures in our state.”

Proceeds from Sting’s concert will help fund trail rehabilitation, the Junior Ranger program and youth education opportunities in the park. An artist like Sting — who has 6 million followers on Facebook, 17 Grammy Awards and has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide — can draw more attention to Zion National Park and help the nonprofit go a long way.

“We’re not really in the business of bringing more people to Zion,” Hafen said. “Our mission is to help those people who do come to Zion not just be consumers of this place but also contributors … to help them become keepers of the sanctuary. This concert … will really promote Zion in a big way, but our real desire is to promote that stewardship message, and Sting really does fit that.”

U.S. President Woodrow Wilson declared Zion a national park 100 years ago this November.
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson declared Zion a national park 100 years ago this November.
Provided by Zachary Almaguer

While Hafen didn’t know how much of the proceeds from Sting’s Zion National Park benefit concert would go to the nonprofit, he said it would be a “significant number.”

“Sting’s music is known and loved around the world, and Zion is known and loved around the world,” Hafen said, “and that’s a really neat combination.”