August 8 was a different kind of day in Kamas. That was the day the Tour of Utah finished a stage on Main Street, and Kamas was an international celebrity for an afternoon. For several years, Kamas has taken the brunt of the traffic discombobulation caused by the race. It briefly closes every road through town, for a couple of days in a row. Until this year, we got the chaos, but nobody even slowed down, let alone stopped to spend a dime in town. So hosting the stage finish was a big deal.
From the perspective of the race organizers, and my own observations as a spectator/volunteer, it was spectacular. It couldn't have gone any better. The predictions for the crowd got ambitious. There is an "official" guess of 4,000 spectators, which is double the population of Kamas. I would have guessed about half that. Whatever the number, it was just about right.
This is the first time Kamas has tried anything of this scale. The Demolition Derby and Rodeo happen at established facilities with known ticket sales. The Tour of Utah was completely new, and nobody knew exactly what to expect. The race organizers pull this off with military precision. The event went up, happened, and vanished in a matter of hours. The traffic management seemed to work, but I was watching the race, not trying to drive a log truck to the sawmill. Everybody had advance warning, and at least in town, there are detours on side streets.
In talking with business owners since, it was clearly a mixed bag. Expectations were maybe unrealistic.
The owner of the auto parts store said it was dead during the race, and then, once the roads opened, he did a full day's business in a couple of hours. He thought it was a fun event, and seemed happy. His store looked great on TV. Fan belts don't spoil like the restaurants' unsold food. What makes it so hard to predict is that if it had been 10 degrees warmer, they would have sold ice cream by the ton.
The winner of the stage was awarded his trophy by Mayor Lew Marchant. But Kamas also was a winner, and Lew and the local committee deserve awards for running a first-time event that worked so well. Other winners received their awards from State Senator Kevin VanTassell. I'm sure they were honored to be in the presence of a man of such gravity. Looking at them on the podium, I couldn't help but think that our plus-sized Senator outweighs the entire peloton.
There was a beer garden, which was a first for Kamas. Kamas has been dry for a couple of months since the old liquor store closed. The new one is just getting open. It's probably 50 years since there was an actual bar in Kamas. So a beer garden. It was so low key that I didn't realize I was in it. When you have a beer garden in Park City, it is surrounded by razor wire, and people are waterboarded to prove their age before being allowed to put on some kind of wristband and enter.
The DABC, which makes up the rules as they go, had a completely different program in Kamas. The beer garden was a couple of picnic tables set up under a big tree, where kids with snow cones and people with pork sandwiches were all pleasantly sitting in the shade of the same tree as people sipping a cold one, in full view of God, the Bishop, and everyone. Lightning did not strike.
It was a great mix of longtime Kamas families, new arrivals, Park City people who ventured over the mountain for the first time, and cycling fans from everywhere else. There was a group of missionaries there in full white-shirt uniform. They were hanging around the anti-doping control area, where there didn't appear to be much of a market for clean urine samples.
The state looks beautiful in the coverage of the race. The Kamas Valley looked like the paradise it is.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.