Teri Orr: Savoring Park City
Sunday in the Park
Park Record columnist
The way I remember, it was first called something like A Taste of Park City. The brainchild of Tina Lewis who was working with the Chamber of Commerce.
Since we were a town of around 2,000 people and no one came here in the summer, no one, Tina cooked up an idea to throw a dinner party down Main Street and invite folks to join us. For some reason, it always rained on the Saturdays picked those first few years.
Closing down the street to the traffic that might make it up to the most active businesses on the street, the bars, had strong opposition. The table was, of course, many tables stretched end to end, and it took up the street from about the Egyptian to the Kimball Corner.
Somewhere in the archives of this paper there is a photo of Tina trying to rescue the event. She is in a golf cart heading up the street with her lovely blonde hair smashed against her head as the rain is pouring down. Eventually it was determined it was all simply too much of a folly given the weather and the opposition of some merchants. The event went away.
It was resurrected by some outside group I think, who maybe renamed it A Taste of the Summit, and placed food stations around the ice rink at the Park City Mountain Resort. And it existed like that for a few years with maybe the Park City Restaurant Association stepping in toward the end. That lasted a few years with better weather but not so much enthusiasm.
A few years back, Ginger Ries — under the direction of the Park City Restaurant Association — decided once again to bring the event to life.
They created one long table from the top of Main Street to the bottom, and restaurants and merchants alike, even bars, now welcomed the event and the guests to the table. Yes, there were still a few years when the wind and rain whipped up, and the patio umbrellas took flight, landing all akimbo on the asphalt.
But the energy of the restauranteurs was whipped up and served with flare. The decorated tiny oasis spaces became a mild competition of creativity beyond the preparation of food itself. Soon wine pairings were added, then strolling musicians and a whiskey bar. And abig stage with fixed musicians.
Now the table is a mile long. It extends from the tippy top of the street past the intersection at the old Kimball Corner all the way down to the roundabout. Most of the restaurants are fully sold out.
So this year, at the very top of Main, those clever folks from Riverhorse Provisions oversaw food trucks and a bar and live music and created a space locals were calling “Savor the Cash.”
It was $50, I think, to enter that corral as opposed to some of the seated spots on the street that were $350 a plate (well several plates to be fair and several glasses and a parting gift of homemade honey or chocolates or tiny flower bouquets).
For no cost, folks wandered up and down the street and took a peek at the table settings and ladies in floral dresses and men in short sleeves and even some seersucker. There was much laughter and a reunion of folks who hadn’t seen each other in months, or in some cases, a year since that last Savor.
Because there are people who now travel, from both coasts, to make certain they are in Park City that day. There is a certain magic in a mountain town. Seasonal relationships served up like fresh rhubarb sauce that really defines a season. Because of the noise ordinance of 10 p.m. the whole thing was done as the “almost solstice” twilight lit the way back home.
Yes, I understand in June and January there are still exactly the same hours in the day. But in a ski resort town it doesn’t always feel that way. In the winter, the days are short because the light is shorter. And the dark is somehow darker. And days can unfold over and over without the slant of the light including any real sunshine or blue sky.
But now trees, lush and green by day, take hours to fade from our sight as they turn first a kinda gray and then simply silhouettes — black against indigo twilight — until they altogether disappear against the starry night.
Once home from Main Street, I sat out on the tiny porch outside my upstairs bedroom and thanked my lucky stars — twinkling in the night sky — for the good fortune to live in a town filled with so many creative souls who just want to make stuff up all the time. From the art show in Oakley this weekend to the Silly Sundays all summer long to the whispered sip and stroll planned in my neighborhood, um, soon.
Ski resort towns can forget sometimes they are their best as simply small towns. Filled with connections and intimate conversations. And for a few too short months served best in the open air with flair.
The most delicious thing isn’t actually the food or the wine; it is the meandering conversations/friendships forged in shared snowstorms and parades and kids soccer games and even heated City Hall disputes.
A night spent together actually on Main Street in the summer with friends, old and new, doesn’t change any core value.
They can’t really be measured in the terms bureaucrats love: “sustainability” and “scalability.” They exist and succeed because of a kind of serendipity that takes seasoning.
So a long overdue thank you, Tina Lewis, for your vision more than 30 years ago to put on the ultimate, small-town inclusive dinner party. It took a while to get it right but it has become the signature event you imagined. And it urges us to make all the summer moments we can sprinkled in a kind of Puck-ish dust. Every day now, especially Sundays in the Park…
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
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Columnist Amy Roberts writes that Park City should allow voters to decide whether they want to foot the bill for an arts and culture district. “Not putting such a controversial and expensive project on the ballot just seems, well, cuckoo.”