My name is George Jessop founder of Short Creek Festivities. When we started talking about doing a 4th of July breakfast in 2015 I didn’t realize our greatest weakness was our strength, Had we known how huge this event was going to become, we may not have had the courage to pursue it.
Our community was a ghost town compared to previous times. Community functions were stopped in 2002 when Rulon Jeffs our form religions leader decreed there were to be no more social events. Miriam and I talked about moving away in 2012 but when we realized what it was going to take to move we changed our minds. We decided to stay, but we wanted to see change. What could we do to make a change in such a crazy awkward place like this, with out the friends we once had??
It had been 13 years since the last community celebration, which Miriam and I had been involved in by preparing dutch oven style food for breakfast. When we did food for these past events we served dutch oven potatoes for thousands. I came home one day and asked Miriam if she would help me make a small 4th breakfast for friends and anyone else that would like to come. She said YES, even after we swore we wouldn’t ever cook for the community again.
From there it began. We launched the event on facebook thinking we would end up preparing food for 250-500 people. But as the 4th got closer the confirmed numbers began to increase. Traditionally these breakfasts had been free, which we wanted to continue. That meant we needed donations. I called about 10 people nearly every day for 4 months, There were some individuals I called every week until the day of the 4th trying to get the necessary help and gather funds. The day before the 4th we had confirmed numbers near 2000. On the day of, we had an estimated 4500-5000 people come to this event. The first ever Short Creek community event that was not dictated and funded by the FLDS.
As the day went on the emotions were high, people were so hungry for each others association. Many of these people were removed by the church leaders by being sent away to repent, some left being branded all sorts evil. People having been gone anywhere from 2-15 years, some longer. There was so much healing that took place through the day, happiness was seen again in Short Creek. Since the first 4th in 2015 people have returned to these communities. There has been so much change, many people who once lived here had no desire to even step foot in this place have return. The new opportunities we have are over whelming.
The changes that have had an impact were not only the 4th, but the flood that took some of the community members when 14 people died. The love that was expressed and showed for each other during these times of stress have been a very powerful healing moment for many people.