KAYSVILLE – In a move that seems certain to relieve political pressure on 1st District congressional candidate Katie Witt, the organizers of a controversial country music concert have relocated their event to Tooele County.
The concert featuring county music star Collin Raye, sponsored by Utah Business Revival, will now take place at the Studio Ranch Amphitheater near Grantsville, according to UBR spokesman Eric Moutsos. That location, he added, will provide space for up to 300 vendor booths where “small business heroes … will have a safe, outdoor opportunity to provide for their families and pay their mortgages.”
“We are anxious to help … small business owners survive and restore some constitutional freedoms at the same time …” Moutsos said, explaining why UBR originally sought to hold the concert in Kaysville. “Mayor Katie Witt and Police Chief Sol Oberg have been true champions of 1st Amendment freedoms of speech and assembly … It’s sad that some politicians like (Kaysville city council members) Michelle Barber and John Swan Adams are drunk on political power with no concern for small business.”
The event has become a bone of contention between Utahs who favor reopening the economy now and those who believe the threat of the coronavirus is still too great to risk steps that might lead to rapid economic recovery from the pandemic.
Utah Business Revival is an ad hoc protest group whose members definitely fall into the former category. Moutsos says the group has more than 15,000 members and is growing on a daily basis.
UBR previously sponsored a mid-April rally that brought nearly 1,000 people to the Salt Lake City Hall and an open-air market in Vineyard.
The efforts of UBR and similar groups urging the immediate reopening of all Utah business are supported by a growing number of political figures, including Witt, who is mayor of Kaysville, and GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Hughes.
When Witt approved Barnes Parks in Kaysville as the original venue for the UBR concert on May 30, it touched off a political firestorm because the lure of a free concert with a major headlining performer seemed certain to attract an audience that would exceed the state’s current prohibition on mass gatherings.
That controversy prompted calls for Witt’s resignation from the liberal advocacy group Alliance for a Better Utah and a threat from Adams that the Kaysville City Council would disavow the mayor’s action.
Although the UBR decision to relocate their concert has relieved her of a political hot potato, Witt is unapologetic about her commitment to reopen Utah’s economy.
“This is a critical time for our nation,” Witt said. “We need to safely reopen America … I took an oath to uphold the Constitution and it’s an oath that I take seriously. The freedom to peacefully assemble is a bedrock principle that Utah was founded on.”
The UBR concert is now slated for 6 to 10 p.m. at the Studio Ranch Amphitheater near Grantsville. The event is free to the public. Organizers of the open-air concert are urging participants to observe a social distance of 7 feet and to wear face masks or other protective gear if they desire to do so.