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Salt Lake City hosts huge weekend of big events

Multiple activities expected to attract more than 200,000 to Utah’s capital

Jolene Vasilias organizes Greek pastries while preparing for this weekend’s Greek Festival at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. This weekend the city will play host to the Greek Festival, teh FanX, the Utah State Fair and the Vans Park Series World Championships.
Jolene Vasilias organizes Greek pastries while preparing for this weekend’s Greek Festival at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. This weekend the city will play host to the Greek Festival, teh FanX, the Utah State Fair and the Vans Park Series World Championships.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Heading downtown this weekend? You won’t be alone.

Far from it.

Visitors can expect one of the largest arrays of arts, entertainment and cultural activities in recent memory set to take place in Salt Lake City.

Starting Friday, Salt Lake City will host a plethora of events that are expected to attract more than 200,000 people to downtown and nearby neighborhoods.

Participants of the FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention being held the Salt Palace Convention Center walk across Main Street in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. This weekend the city will play host to the Greek Festival, FanX, the Utah State Fair and the Vans Park Series World Championships.
Participants of the FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention being held the Salt Palace Convention Center walk across Main Street in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. This weekend the city will play host to the Greek Festival, FanX, the Utah State Fair and the Vans Park Series World Championships.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Among the planned happenings are the annual Greek Festival at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the FanX comic convention at the Salt Palace, the sold-out birthday celebration for President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Friday at the 21,000-seat Conference Center, and the Utah Jazz & Roots Festival at the Gallivan Center.

Oh, and there’s more.

Also on tap this weekend is the kickoff of the Utah State Fair along with the 2019 World Skateboarding Championships at the Utah State Fairpark, plus the University of Utah football game versus Northern Illinois at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday morning.

Then there’s the Utah Symphony performing music from “The Empire Strikes Back” at Abravanel Hall Friday and Saturday, Glow Yoga to Bonobo and the Nitya Nritya Festival events at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, plus “Happy Days,” by Samuel Beckett, at the Eccles Theater and the sold-out Gary Clark Jr. concert at Red Butte Gardens Friday night.

Oh, and the Salt Lake City Farmer’s Market, too, and the Avenues Street Fair.

Whew!

The number and variety of events this weekend represents the rapid growth that has occurred in Salt Lake City in recent years, which has helped change the arts and entertainment landscape is a big way, said Dee Brewer, executive director of the Downtown Alliance.

“The weekend after Labor Day has always been a very busy weekend,” he said. “The city is growing and there is the population base to support a lot (of activities).”

The economic impact of this weekend’s downtown events is estimated to be around $19 million, Brewer noted, adding that part of what is fueling the event growth is the development of the city’s downtown entertainment and dining landscape that offers increasing variety each year.

“(People) are often making a day out of their trip downtown to do other things” in addition to their planned event, he said. “They’re going to eat, they’re going to shop, so all of these events attract spending that is good for the city, for the county and even for the state.”

“All of these events have an economic impact that ripples across the region and across the state,” he added.

Brewer said the area’s arts and entertainment offerings are increasing all the time, and it’s a trend that should carry on as the population continues to grow.

While the number of events this weekend and the volume of people attending those events will be high, monitoring the affected areas for public safety will look fairly normal, officials said.

“(These kinds of crowds) happen more than people may realize,” said Salt Lake police detective Michael Ruff. “We don’t have to change what we do necessarily for those events. We just have to be aware of them.”

He said many venues hire security to maintain and monitor safety, including bringing on some off-duty law enforcement officers in some cases. Either way, adequate planning has already been included by the event’s organizers, which allows local law enforcement to operate in a fairly normal fashion with the manpower they have deemed necessary for the circumstances.

“Whenever there’s a large crowd or big event, we’re always aware of it,” he said. “When we build our patrol structures and our staffing, we staff so that we can handle emergencies.”

He said the public safety planning for this weekend will look very similar to when there are large conventions in town.

“I don’t know that it requires us to change the way we do things or the way that we staff,” Ruff said. “We have officers in other areas that if something really big happened, we can pull those people down there.”

He said officers train to handle crowds at large-scale events so they are prepared in case there is an emergency.

Meanwhile, the Utah Transit Authority will be running extra trains for FanX and the Utah football game. Anyone who has a game ticket has a ticket to ride on UTA (TRAX and bus) to Rice-Eccles, said UTA spokesman Carl Arky.

Ruff advised people planning to attend any of the events this weekend to plan ahead and be prepared for heavier-than-normal congestion.

“Try to carpool and take public transit (if possible). Be cognizant of the fact there is probably going to be more traffic (and) parking is going to be limited,” Ruff said. “So be patient and leave yourself extra time to get (to your destination). Be aware of what’s going on around you, and if you see something you feel is out of place, don’t hesitate to give us a call and we’ll come check it out.”