New/Opinion by Ed Wallace, Publisher / July 27, 2020

The largest Pioneer Day celebration event in WashCo was mostly ignored by local media. Because of very limited resources, Utah Standard News usually does not cover local events, but, because of the massive attendance of thousands of people, and the purposes behind the event, we’re making an exception. An event like that deserves to be heralded. In the 24 years that I’ve lived in WashCo, I’ve never attended an event that has been better organized or more professional. With an estimated attendance of 4,000 to 8,000, it was one of the most successful events ever held in WashCo, not only for the attendance numbers, but for the general feeling and attitude of everyone that was present. The fact that local media provided virtually no significant coverage leaves me to wonder about their motives, which seem to be entirely financial or agenda-driven. 

The event was hosted on private property, the Staheli Family Farm in Washington City, and was produced by Utah Business Revival whose mantra is “We want our freedoms back.  We want to save our businesses. We want our LIVES back!” UBR is “a coalition of small business owners committed to getting Utah back to work and promoting hope for a brighter future!” 

Perhaps one reason for the lack of coverage is that the event was produced without one penny of taxpayers money. There was no admission and EVERYTHING was donated, including the venue, sound system, and flatbed stage. Government was NOT INVOLVED at all, in any way, and the event probably went against the guidelines for large gatherings. Farmer Sherrie says that 2,600 wristbands were passed out and estimates 1,000 more probably attended. I estimate 6,000 to 8,000 throughout the day. It’s impossible to tell…. it was YUUUUGE.

Imagine, thousands of liberty-loving patriots walking around, enjoying life and each other, celebrating their heritage and freedom, without any governance or permission. That causes me to ponder about the proper role of government and how much the government gets in our way.

The music and speakers were superb and a great time was had by all, including the 115+ vendors and small businesses that had booths without any fees. Compare that to the heavily promoted events at the Dixie Center with booth fees up to $500 and lower attendance. Many of those events are co-sponsored by the same media that ignored, refused, or toned-down their coverage of this event.

One of the most popular vendors was one that sold Trump swag. Another local booth, Liberty Action Coalition, reported substantial interest in their efforts to further the U.S. Constitution and its principles in WashCo and elect local officials who follow the Constitution. That’s a much needed endeavor.

One would think that the appearance of Evander Holyfield, the ONLY 4-time World Heavyweight Champion, and Tim Ballard, the founder and CEO of Operation Underground Railroad, might spark some interest, but no. Ballard has briefed many world leaders on issue of child sex trafficking and is directly responsible for rescuing over 4,000 victims and the arrest of over 750 traffickers. He was asked to testify before the United States Congress and was appointed by President Trump to the White House Public-Private Partnership Advisory Council to End Human Trafficking. Big YAWN from the media.

(Note: Tim Ballard and Underground Railroad will be hosting their event “Rise Up for the Children” this Thursday, July 30, in Saint George. The event will be broadcast live to 80 major cities and will feature Tony Robbins, Derek Hough, and Lindsey Stirling. Watch their Live Stream Event. Click here for location and time.)

In a featured article two days prior to the event, St George News ran a “contributed article” about the event, ‘Hometown Pioneer Day Celebration’ to feature Operation Underground Railroad founder. The article was “Written by or for St. George News Sponsor.” Translation: someone paid an exorbitant fee to have it published. In fact, the article was written by news staff and was paid for by a prominent advertiser. The site refused to cover the event any other way citing concerns about a risk. But hey, ya got the green? No problem. They did list the event on their calendar but at the time of this posting, there has been no coverage of the event.

The “sponsored” article quoted Utah Business Revival founder Eric Moutsos: “We have our freedoms here (in Utah) because the pioneers took a bold stand to do what they had to do to take care of their families in times of crisis,” he said. “The pioneers knew what they had to do in order to live their lives, and they are an example to us of how we can live during very trying times.” 

The owner of the farm, Sherrie Staheli, was also quoted: “‘Let’s just have a good old-fashioned Pioneer Day celebration.’”

The Spectrum mentioned the event, along with the other events, in their story Southern Utah celebrating Pioneer Day differently in 2020. They covered the event in a loosely defined “photo-journalism” article: Pioneer Day at Staheli Family Farm. Even though a reporter attended and interviewed people, here was no news coverage, info, interviews, or mention of speakers in the article other than the “134 photos” that were mostly taken early before the crowd showed up thus giving the impression of low attendance. 25 of those photos were of the crowd and the rest (109) were of the bands that performed. 44 of those band pics featured one performer, a woman dressed in black taken from various angles. The photojournalist, Chris Caldwell, may have a crush? The musician was not identified and all of the pics had the same caption.

The same spot later in the day.

The Spectrum had no problem writing a featured story the same day that promoted all of the local business entities that are requiring masks, That story must have required many hours of tedious research even though there is no mask mandate. The story features many stores that are major advertisers.

All of the local media, including radio stations, refused to promote the community event.

The Staheli Family Farm (SFF) has a business license that allows for special events. Even so, the Mayor and Washington City Council, along with the Southwest Utah Public Health Department were notified and they offered no interference. Instead, they were all supportive. One vendor reported an encounter with a representative from the Utah Department of Health who was slinking around, asking lots of questions, and taking copious notes.

The SFF has been in the family for six generation. Farmer Sherrie says that the Farm isn’t just a place where cows live or simply a place where food grows, it’s a place where real life happens. Over the years, the beloved SFF has become a fixture in WashCo by offering the “Field of Screams”, the “Fall Pumpkin Patch”, “Corn Maze”,”June Farm Camp”, and “Christmas on the Farm”. The site is also available for weddings and parties.

Because I expected that the event would be well-covered by the local media, I made no effort to prepare for this article. I’ll try to not make that same mistake again if resources and time permit. This inaction by the media is a founding principle for the formation of Utah Standard News. There isn’t a lot of local or state “fake news” but there is a pandemic of ignored news, as if the media doesn’t cover events, did the event actually happen? 

This isn’t the first time that local media has seemingly suppressed stories that go against a liberal agenda. Another example of local media bias on parade can be found here: Travis Seegmiller: The Hidden Story: No News is Fake News. Representative Seegmiller is a Constitutional conservative who is shaking things up at the Capitol and probably feels like a stranger in a strange land.

Unlike myriad news organizations that deceptively slant or distort the news while claiming to be “objective,” we forthrightly acknowledge an editorial point of view that is guided by our support of the U.S. Constitution and the principles upon which our Constitution is based, and the personal responsibility a free people must exercise to stay free. But, that aside, we always approach the news honestly, relying on facts and reason, and allowing the chips to fall where they may. Our only agenda is the truth.

We don’t cover accidents, crimes, disasters, or other sensational stories that are geared for clicks. One reporter at the major local news outlet confided that they are actually paid by number of clicks their story generates. So, the news and headlines are written for that reason, along with the fear of being fired. Why would any reputable “news” outlet position their content for that? Answer…. money or agenda.

Journalism must be free from undue or corrupting influence or leveraged by bias or agenda. One’s judgment is no better than the information it is based upon. A person may still judge wrongly when presented the truth, but they had the opportunity to be right. If one is given no news or biased, sloppy, distorted or incomplete information, filled with deliberate propaganda and falsehoods, then their whole reasoning process is corrupted or completely destroyed. 

Our mainstream media outlets and the news that they report avoids thought vastly more than it rarely enlightens thought. To paraphrase Mark Twain, “If you don’t follow the news, you are uninformed. If you do follow the news, you are misinformed.”

USN is an independent entity, owned and operated by local neighbors with a vested interest in the events occurring around us. We are not part of a media empire. We strive to provide a refreshing alternative to right-wing and left-wing opinion/news sites by presenting a principled source for news and commentary without the omissions, blatant lies, incomplete truths, diversions, politically correct distortions or any other form of deceit where truth is avoided and extreme falsity has become our virtual and simulated artificial reality.

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The following photos of the “‘Hometown Pioneer Day Celebration” have been harvested from various sources including: Staheli Family Farm (Facebook Page) and Utah Business Revival (Facebook Page). Both sites also feature comments and other pics.

Some of the comments:

Laurel Roberts Frost – I found my tribe. I don’t feel so alone anymore.

Aleesha Marshall – Such an awesome event. So glad I could be there. Love Washington County!!

B Jason Perry – Love Washington, could have never pulled this off in St. George.

Linzi Jolley Hansen – I teared up so many times! It felt “normal”! It gave me hope! So many people there living there lives! Thank you to all who worked so diligently to make this happen! You all make me feel like we can do this!

Tyler Jensen – Absolutely incredible and inspiring. Felt good being at a normal gathering with no masks or paranoid people lol I really enjoyed Tim’s speech and totally support his cause. Also enjoyed supporting all the awesome local businesses of Washington County.

Brooke Thomas Smith – This event made me so happy, so glad to see the number of people who care more about freedom and helping in supporting a good cause rather than all of the grocery stores I go to and I’m the only one not wearing a mask. About time we saw what people are really thinking about the governor and article about mask wearing and mandates!

Jennifer Horne – Honestly, I don’t know if there are words to truly express my joy and pride over tonight’s event! First off THANK YOU Eric Moutsos for all you have done for our community, you are AMAZING!!

Brigit Atkin – I couldn’t believe how many people were there! I told my sister we were probably at the country’s biggest party last night.

Arlo Andersen Jr. – This was our first public festival since early March and it was EVERYTHING!!! Thank you Eric Moutsos and Utah Business Revival as well as all the amazing Patriots who came out to support everything that is right, true and good in this part of the State!

Waldemar Carlstrom – 50% of health care workers are getting sick with the virus wearing Suits and PPE, you guys will get sick.

Mishaun Staheli Horspool – Awesome awesome awesome. I was there as a business and this was a great opportunity to spread the word and let people know about my business!!

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Photo by Kristine Wagner