Ivins Heritage Days: Celebrating history with fun and community spirit

Dedication of the Ivins LDS Church in 1926, Ivins, Utah, 1926 | Courtesy of Jenny Johnson

IVINS – Heritage Days, Sept. 22, celebrates the rich history of Ivins with emphasis on fun and community spirit.

Ivins history

Ivins began as a project site in the early 1900s for the building of a canal that brought water to Santa Clara and later the Ivins Reservoir. Following the completion of those projects, the irrigation company offered lots to the workers and their families willing to stay behind and settle a town. Twelve accepted the challenge.

Ivins settlers 1922-1924, per the Washington County Historical Society

Mr. and Mrs. Alden Gray
Mr. and Mrs. Edward Tobler
Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Gubler
Mr. and Mrs. Clement Gubler
Mr. and Mrs. Edward R. Frei
Mr. and Mrs. Leo F. Reber
Mr. and Mrs. Reuben Ence
Mr. and Mrs. Milo Ence
Mr. and Mrs. Rulon Stucki
Mr. and Mrs. Martin J. Gubler
Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Reber
Mr. and Mrs. Loren Stucki

Over the next four years, buildings sprung up, families grew and more people arrived. The first church was built in 1926 and dedicated by Anthony W. Ivins, an apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On the day of this dedication, the residents elected to give their town a name (it had previously been considered a part of Santa Clara). In honor of the man who had contributed to the town’s success, Ivins it was.

Ivins agreed to the naming and promised to send the townspeople a bell for the church. It arrived soon after and still hangs in the original building today.

Original bell hanging in the old Ivins LDS Church, Ivins, Utah, undated | Courtesy of Jenny Johnson

Though it remained a small town throughout most of the 20th century, Ivins has recently experienced an astounding boom in population: From 1980 to 2010, the number of residents leapt from 600 to more than 6,000. This has been attributed to its stunning scenery and attractions including the Tuacahn Amphitheatre and Center for the Arts, Snow Canyon State Park, Red Mountain Spa, The Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge and Kayenta.

Heritage Days

Heritage Days was created by the Ivins Historical Society and in its initial years  consisted of a week of scattered activities. In early 2012, discussion was brought before the city council to either improve or abolish it. The former was chosen and Jenny Johnson, a past member of the Heritage Days committee, took the reins.

Johnson said that visitors should expect a completely different atmosphere this year. Fun activities and games will still be included, but the emphasis is on remembering and celebrating the legacy of the first Ivins residents.

“(The event) is intended to be even more community-centered now,” she said.

Keeping with this theme, the day will start out with an hour of community service that all celebrants are encouraged to take part in; a breakfast will be provided for all who do. Vendor booths will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., while family games run along with a talent show. A soap box derby, the first ever held in Ivins, will take place in the afternoon. Awards will be handed out, followed by the showing of a historic film in the city park at 7: 30 p.m.

Cleo and Roosevelt Gubler, direct descendants of the original Ivins settlers and oldest Ivins residents, Ivins, Utah, undated | Courtesy of Jenny Johnson

But Johnson said the real highlights of the day are the heritage displays and community tour, both of which offer information about Ivins’s early years. An old-fashioned bazaar will raise funds for commemorative plaques to be purchased and installed at the settlers’ homes. The plaques will state their names and the year they arrived, as well as a picture of the family.

Heritage Days is a very personal project for Johnson, herself born and raised in one of those first homes. She has lived in Ivins all her life and contributed to the community as a firefighter, member of the Ivins Historical Society and dedicated volunteer.

“(I) have deep ties and a deep love for this (place) that I call home,” she said. “I have been involved in many community events over the years and am extremely passionate about giving an opportunity for all the citizens of this beautiful place to feel that same love and passion.”

Johnson said that besides community spirit, there will be a great deal of local talent on display, and she hopes to see a large turnout.

“Heritage Days is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the founding of Ivins, to honor and celebrate the early settlers, and to promote (our) community,” she said.

Event details and contact information

Date: Sept. 22

Times: All day – see schedule for specifics

Location: Various venues – see schedule for specifics

Admission: Free – some activities may cost

Contact: Jenny Johnson 435-668-6751 or Ruth Roberts 435-656-5393

Dedication of the Ivins LDS Church in 1926, Ivins, Utah, 1926 | Courtesy of Jenny Johnson


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1 Comment

  • Summer Kirkland June 27, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    I was wondering if you had a paparazzi vendor yet? If not I’d love to do it. Thanks
    Summer 216-8285

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