Pioneer Day Pie and Beer Day spin-off canceled
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – One of the biggest celebrations of one of Utah’s most beloved unofficial holidays is on hiatus this summer due to concerns over declining vaccination rates and the increase in COVID-19 and Delta variant infections.
The owners and management of Beer Bar, which hosts an annual “Pie and Beer Day” celebration on July 24, a mainstay of the Salt Lake City counter-culture movement linked to the Pioneer Day festivities, decided to take a another sabbatical from the occasion.
Organizers fear that a mass gathering of local pastry and beer lovers could turn into a super spreading event.
“Nobody wants to hear about the ‘Pie and Beer Day Massacre,'” says Brad Wheeler, who conceptualized the first Pie and Beer Day party at the Beer Bar in 2013. “I have the reputation of being kind of the guy who likes to do crazy things and be irresponsible at times, but now is not the time to be like that, you know? Now is the time to be careful. “
Considered by some to be the unofficial hub of Pie and Beer Day, a pun for those who choose not to celebrate Pioneer Day, the day in 1847 when Brigham Young and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints carrying handcarts arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, Beer Bar was making the 2021 revival bigger than ever after taking off from 2020 due to the pandemic.
Plans were in place to close half of the block on 200 South, where the bar is located, to provide a wide range of locally sourced pies and craft beers.
Unfortunately, as the team of owners observed, there is always a huge risk of exposure at an event where hundreds of people would be present.
“As we were working on it this year, we realized because of the number and rate of immunizations in Utah that people had stopped getting vaccinated and the numbers were increasing,” says Richard Noel, co-owner of Beer Bar, at ABC4.com. “We just didn’t feel good to have a huge event with maybe even 1,000 people while we are still trying to roll out the vaccine. So we decided to take a break this year and it’s sad.
Many in the medical field would agree with Beer Bar’s decision.
Dr. Mark Oliver, an infectious disease specialist at St. Mark’s Hospital, told ABC4’s Hailey Hendricks on Friday that the risk of transmission was still “very high”, adding that it would only take one or two infected people – who may or may not show symptoms – spread the disease.
While the beer bar will still be open on Saturday, the pie and beer day scene that has been a staple of SLC summer life since 2013, will be noticeably muted. In the interest of being a responsible member of the community, Noel and his staff will take a financial hit by not marketing or running one of their most important earning days on the calendar.
“We are certainly not acting in the best interest of making money with this decision, that’s for sure,” Noel said, adding that a significant amount of money generated for charitable efforts will also be missed this year. .
Speaking of missing out on another year of Pie and Beer Day at Beer Bar, Wheeler sighs and calls it “an emotional issue.” The festivities at the popular downtown waterhole were his idea almost a decade ago.
While the phrase “Pie and Beer Day” has been around for some time – Wheeler laughs he has no idea where it came from – it was his idea to use the nickname as promotional tool for her workplace fundraiser, KUAA 99.9, a radio station sponsored by the Utah Arts Alliance.
When Pie and Beer Day debuted at Beer Bar in 2013, it quickly overtook local circles and made national headlines.
“They told me this was the dumbest idea ever and no one was coming, and it was stupid. And then the next day the New York Times called me on the phone, ”Wheeler recalls. “And it was in The Associated Press, it was on CNN, it was in Time Magazine, it was everywhere.”
Wheeler and Noel remember the line for a slice of pie and a pint of beer coming out the door of the apartment building and circling the block this first year. Yet somehow everyone was able to get a pie, they say.
Expecting a return from the community for the cancellation of a popular event, even though many COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, Noel notes that there is no one sadder than him than Pie and Beer Day will have to wait another year. It was one of the best and most exciting bar days every year. Comedy actor Ty Burrell, the brother of other bar owner Duncan Burrell, had been on hand to serve pie for the past few years. Other celebrities, such as Saturday Night Live cast member Kyle Mooney, have also been at the bar for Pie and Beer Day.
Wheeler, a longtime Utahn who grew up in the LDS Church, says having an unofficial vacation like Pie and Beer Day on the 24the July was important for those who were not members of the Church. His idea of making the tongue-in-cheek joke come true bridged the gap for many different faiths and non-beliefs in the region. Wheeler notes that many of the Beer Bar’s best patrons on July 24 are loyal, non-drinking members of the Church, who just want to enjoy a slice of pie and feel together with the others.
Noel laments that despite the vaccine being widely available and health restrictions currently allowing for a big celebration this Saturday, the truth that many still haven’t been vaccinated is preventing it from happening.
“It just doesn’t make sense that we’re currently watching the numbers go up because people won’t do the responsible thing and get vaccinated. We have to be on the same page and just get over it. “