Visitors are welcome to join in a day of games, hiking, pioneer activities and cowboy poetry on Aug. 24 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the ranch. The event is designed to honor the 219th birthday of Fielding Garr, the man who originally founded the ranch.
“It’s just a way to celebrate and let everyone know about him,” said Clay Shelley, the curator of Fielding Garr Ranch.
The day will start at 10 a.m. with a group hike to the Frary Homestead and the island’s mulberry grove. The hike is expected to be moderately difficult and take approximately four hours. Those who are interested in participating should meet at mile marker 8 along the east side of the island.
“We’ll head up to the homestead, and talk a little about its history,” said Shelley. “Then we’ll hike cross country to the grove, then meet back down at the parking lot.”
At 1 p.m., the ranch staff will begin offering tours of the ranch to guests. Pioneer games start at 2 p.m., including farm ball, hoop and stick, and gunny sack races. At the same time, kids can get the chance to dip their own candles using the same technique as pioneer children.
At 4 p.m., experts will offer demonstrations on how to spin and card wool, and talk about the history of wool production. Fielding Garr initially set up the ranch to raise sheep for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1848. By the 1920s, it was one of the largest sheep ranches in the U.S.
“We really try to show people how they would process and take care of the wool,” said Shelley.
The celebration will end with a presentation by Stan Tixier, a Cowboy poet out of Eden, Utah. Tixier is a familiar face for anyone who’s attended the Cowboy Music and Poetry Festival, held each year on Antelope Island. Like all good Cowboy poets, his day-to-day work serves as an inspiration for his creations.
“He worked for the U.S. Forest Service for many years, and it took him all through Utah and the U.S.,” said Shelley. “He’s a character, and he’s also a very good poet.”
The party has become a ranch tradition over the last few years, with hundreds of people stopping by throughout the day to share in the fun.
“We could have anywhere from 500 to 700 people stop by,” said Shelley. “It just depends on how hot it is.”
All events are free, but it costs $9 per carload to enter the island. Space for the hike is limited, so please contact Shelley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-649-5742 to secure your spot.
For more information and directions to Fielding Garr Ranch, visit stateparks.utah.gov/park/antelope-island-state-park.