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South Valley Journal

Month-long festival encouraged residents to enjoy newly improved Jordan River

Sep 30, 2019 05:03PM ● By Stephanie Yrungaray

Members of the South Jordan community braved the chance of rain to reel in some fish at Free Fishing Day. (Photo courtesy South Jordan City)

By Stephanie Yrungaray | [email protected]

In September, residents in the 16 cities and three counties that line the Jordan River were encouraged to “Get to the River.”

The Get to the River Festival included a monthlong calendar of events to increase awareness and encourage the use of the Jordan River and Jordan River Parkway. 

“[The festival] is a great opportunity for every city the river goes through to showcase and highlight the value of the river in their city,” said Tish Buroker, member of Riverton City Council and incoming chair of the Jordan River Commission. 

This year, 18 events were planned in various cities, including Bluffdale, South Jordan, Millcreek, Riverton, Sandy, South Salt Lake and West Valley City. 

“Last year, we got our [Riverton] arts council involved,” said Buroker. “This year, we are having a concert right on the lawn [by the river]. It’s got a perfectly natural amphitheater, and we get to listen to a live band, Sean’s Garage, and a children’s choir that performs Beatles songs. How fun is that?”

Bluffdale City joined in the festival this year with “Jordan River ROCKS.” 

Twice a week, with a sticker reading “Bluffdale’s Jordan River Rocks,” was hidden somewhere along the Jordan River in Bluffdale. The city posted clues on their Facebook page to help people find the rock. Once the rock was found, it could be taken to Bluffdale City Hall to trade for a prize. 

Other events for the festival planned by cities included a patriotic bike ride, nature walks, restoration and cleanup projects, art projects, canoe and kayak flotillas, paddling excursions and fishing events. 

Sept. 28 saw an estimated 300 people come to Free Fishing Day in South Jordan, one of the highest attended events. 

“It was great to see such a wide range of fishing ability levels at this event," South Jordan Events Coordinator Natalie Domino said. "We had experienced families that brought all their own gear and families with no one who had ever fished before and needed a quick lesson. Everyone left saying they had a good time whether they caught a fish or not.”  

Buroker said one of the goals of the Get to the River festival is to address and overcome some of the old beliefs about the Jordan River. 

“It used to be a place where you dumped trash and sewage,” Buroker said. “But the Department of Natural Resources, the Division of Water Quality, the Division of Wildlife all of those folks have gotten very actively involved and have helped improve the Jordan River.” 

At the festival kickoff, Soren Simonsen, the executive director of the Jordan River Commission, spoke about what has been improved along the river since the Jordan River Blueprint was created in 2008 and announced an upcoming blueprint revision. 

“This month, we are launching an update,” Simonsen said. “We will have outreach at most of the Get to the River events to give residents an opportunity to share what they like that has been accomplished over the last decade and what they would like to see us focus on as our priorities over the next decade.”

A new fundraising opportunity called “Jordan River Friends” was also announced.

“We want to expand the opportunity for others to be involved with the Jordan river,” said Scott Peters, a member of the Jordan River Foundation. “This is an opportunity for the general public, residents and corporate sponsors to get involved with the Jordan River corridor by donating time and money to improve this great resource.” 

Through the Jordan River Foundation website at, residents or companies can donate money and participate in special events and activities planned especially for Jordan River Friends. 

The overall goal of the Get to the River festival is just that: to encourage residents to use this natural resource that sometimes goes unnoticed. 

“There’s something for everyone at the Jordan River, from walking dogs and children to canoeing to flying model airplanes to picnicking, and the temperature is generally 5 degrees cooler along the river,” said Buroker. “The Get to the River festival celebrates this beautiful ribbon of precious water.”