SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – One of the biggest celebrations for one of Utah’s most popular unofficial holidays is canceled this summer due to concerns about falling vaccination rates and rising infections with COVID-19 and the Delta variant.
The owners and management of the Beer Bar, which hosts a July 24th celebration of Pie and Beer Day, a pillar of Salt Lake City’s counterculture movement in connection with the Pioneer Day celebrations, have decided to hold another year of the occasion.
The organizers fear that a mass gathering of pastry and brewing enthusiasts could turn into a super spreader event.
“Nobody wants to hear about the ‘Pie and Beer Day Massacre’,” says Brad Wheeler, who designed the first Pie and Beer Day Party in the Beer Bar in 2013. “I have a reputation for being the guy who likes doing crazy things and being irresponsible at times, but that doesn’t feel like the time to be like that, you know? That feels like the time to be careful. “
Considered by some the unofficial hub for Pie and Beer Day, a play on words for those who choose not to celebrate Pioneer Day, the day in 1847 that Brigham Young and handcarts with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Saints The last few days arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, Beer Bar was about to make the 2021 revival bigger than ever after it was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.
The plan was to close half of the block on 200 South where the bar is located to offer a wide variety of local cakes and craft beers.
Unfortunately, as the owners team has determined, there is still a tremendous risk of exposure at an event that hundreds would attend.
“When we worked on it this year, based on the numbers and vaccination rates in Utah, we found that people are no longer vaccinated and the numbers are increasing,” said Richard Noel, co-owner of Beer Bar, ABC4.com. “We just didn’t feel right to have a huge event with maybe 1,000 people while we were still trying to get the vaccine out. 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 TV’s Hailey Hendricks Friday that the risk of transmission was still “very high,” adding that only one or two infected people would be required – who can or can Not? Having symptoms – to spread the disease.
While the Beer Bar is still open on Saturday, the Pie and Beer Day scene, which has been a staple of SLC summer life since 2013, will be noticeably subdued. In the interest of being a responsible community member, Noel and his staff will take a financial blow by failing to market or perform one of their busiest days on the calendar.
“We are definitely not acting in the best interests of making money with this decision, that’s for sure,” says Noel, adding that a considerable amount of money will be raised for charity this year as well.
Talking about missing another year of Pie and Beer Day at the Beer Bar, Wheeler sighs and calls it “an emotional problem”. The celebrations in the popular downtown pub were his idea almost a decade ago.
While the phrase “Pie and Beer Day” has been around for a while – Wheeler laughs that he has no idea where it’s from – it was his idea to use the nickname as a promotional tool for a fundraiser at his workplace, KUAA 99.9 , a radio station sponsored by the Utah Arts Alliance.
When Pie and Beer Day began in the Beer Bar in 2013, it quickly grew beyond local circles and made national headlines.
“They told me this was the stupidest idea ever and that no one would come and it was stupid. And the next day the New York Times called me, ”recalls Wheeler. “And it was in the Associated Press, it was on CNN, it was in Time Magazine, it was everywhere.”
Wheeler and Noel remember the queue for a piece of cake and a pint of beer that went out the door of the building and wrapped around the block for the first year. But somehow everyone could get some cake, they say.
Anticipating a setback from the community for canceling a popular event even though many COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, Noel notes that there is no one sadder than him that Pie and Beer Day will have to wait another year. It was one of the bar’s best and most exciting days every year. Comedy actor Ty Burrell, brother of the bar’s other owner, Duncan Burrell, has served cakes for years. Other celebrities, like Kyle Mooney, cast member on Saturday Night Live, were also at the bar for Pie and Beer Day.
Wheeler, a lifelong Utahner who grew up in the LDS Church, says that an unofficial holiday like Pie and Beer Day is on Dec.the July was great for those who were not members of the Church. His idea of turning the winking joke into reality bridged the gap for many different beliefs and non-beliefs in the area. Wheeler notes that many of the best customers at the Beer Bar on July 24 are loyal, non-drinking members of the Church who just want a piece of cake and a sense of togetherness with others.
Noel laments that despite the fact that the vaccine is widespread and health restrictions are currently allowing a grand celebration this Saturday, the truth that many have still not been vaccinated is preventing it from happening.
“The fact that we’re watching the numbers go up because people aren’t taking responsibility and getting an injection just doesn’t make sense. We have to get on the same side and just get through it. “