Editorial: DeJoria Center at High Star Ranch in Kamas hits the right opening note
For the last year or so Kamas residents have cast a skeptical eye toward the foothills of the Uintas, where a large construction project has been underway at the High Star Ranch. But last weekend, for many, their suspicions gave way to admiration.
The rolling pastures once speckled with pairs of grazing mares and colts are now home to a major convention facility which held its official grand opening last Saturday.
The 10,000-square-foot DeJoria Center (named for its primary investor, John Paul DeJoria) is adorned with terraced stonework, a natural spring-fed fountain and a dramatic entryway. It includes two restaurants, a state-of-the-art stage, and sound system, and a multi-use convention hall that can seat 1,400 guests.
The highlight of Saturday’s event was a performance by 220 musicians from the American Festival Chorus and Orchestra. Free tickets had been distributed throughout the community and the music, an unabashed tribute to the American West, made local cowboys’ hearts swell.
The project was annexed into the city of Kamas and, if carefully programmed, stands to be a long-lasting, positive legacy for that town and Summit County. And with a price tag of close to $15 million, the Dejoria Center’s property tax contribution to the South Summit School District will undoubtedly have a big impact.
But the center’s future is by no means guaranteed. Kamas is still a small town (less than 2,000 residents in the 2010 Census) and lacking in many of the support services — lodging, in particular — common to convention centers of that size. Representatives of High Star Ranch say event attendees will come from Park City and Salt Lake but on winter nights that commute could be onerous. They also say that future plans could include lodging, which would be a turning point for a sleepy town at the edge of the National Forest.
Residents’ fears about the center have covered the gamut from the possibility of too many raucous concerts to an empty behemoth. The actual outcome will depend on how the center is programmed. The owners hope to draw a mix of corporate and private events including trade shows, product launches and concerts. Judging by the grand opening: if they stick to events that celebrate the West’s American cultural heritage and invite locals to participate, they will do just fine.
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