Utah Economic Outlook

Randy ShumwayAround the globe, holiday events are successful not only because they invite community involvement and inspire traditions that bring people together year after year, but also because they generate revenue and create jobs.

Such is true of holiday markets that occur throughout the state of Utah around this time each year—each one delivers tangible economic return in addition to the social and community benefit they bring.

Inspired by world-renowned Christmas markets in Germany, the holiday market at This is the Place Park just celebrated its fifth anniversary during the first weekend of December. According to the market’s founder Allyson Chard, by highlighting the Legend of St. Martin, Christkindlmarkt SLC aims to inspire people to serve. The story goes that when St. Martin was serving as a Roman soldier, a beggar asked him for help. Having nothing else to give, St. Martin tore his cloak in two and gave the man the other half. Each year, Christkindlmarkt SLC honors a different person in the community for their humanitarian efforts. This year Pamela Atkinson was honored for her work with the homeless.

Inspiring children to spread their light to others, Christkindlmarkt SLC also hosts a Lantern Parade in which children who have done some type of service can march. Vendors at the market are encouraged to perform community service prior to the market weekend so they can have an additional positive impact apart from selling holiday goods, traditional German food, and other cultural items. The service performed prior to the market and the volunteer hours put into organizing the market have an impact that is felt throughout the community. Since its inception, the market has grown by 30 percent each year, and it continues to attract visitor and community attendance.

Now in its 46th year, the well-known Festival of Trees fundraiser for Primary Children’s Hospital has grown from raising $47,000 in its first year to over $2 million last year. Held during the first weekend of December, the Festival of Trees is the largest annual fundraiser for the hospital. The Festival of Trees sells decorated Christmas trees, gingerbread houses and villages, quilts, wreaths, and other holiday-inspired items that have been donated by individuals, families, organizations, businesses, and church groups. The Festival of Trees fundraiser represents an annual tradition of giving for many families throughout Utah. Many of those involved have a personal stake in the success of the fundraiser because they have been affected by the care that they, a family member, or a friend have received at Primary Children’s Hospital.

Other holiday events throughout the state include the Dickens Christmas Festival in both St. George and Salt Lake City, the Ogden Christmas Village, Luminaria at Thanksgiving Point, Elf Scavenger Hunts at Gardner Village, and many more. Holiday events throughout the state collectively raise millions of dollars and strengthen local economies and communities. Beyond economic return for vendors and organizations, these seasonal fundraisers, markets, and service opportunities help residents feel anchored.