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Draper Journal

What’s the deal with Draper Days? Who’s in charge and how will it be different?

Feb 01, 2023 04:28PM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton

Draper Nights concert 2021. (Mimi Darley Dutton/City Journals)

Change is in the air for Draper’s biggest community celebration. The city is taking over the funding, organization and implementation of Draper Days beginning immediately. With just six months to go until Draper’s biggest event, Mayor Troy Walker addressed the questions swirling around the community about the big change. 

“In essence, the city was paying to put Draper Days on and we didn’t have a way to control our costs. Now we have the complete purse in our hand and we know and can control what we want to spend,” Walker said.

According to the mayor, it’s a matter of transparency with taxpayer funds. Traditionally, the city has donated money to the Draper Community Foundation, letting that 501(c)(3) organization plan and implement all aspects of Draper Days. But that changes now. “All the contracts and all the money will go through the city. The contracts will be with the city and we’re going to take the revenue, too. In the past, we would donate the money, they would sell the tickets and keep the revenue. If we’re going to raise money, we ought to get it back in the coffers,” he said.

Walker insists that the Foundation (a private entity that raises funds and supports the Draper Arts Council, the Draper Historical Society and the Miss Draper Scholarship Program) has done nothing wrong. Walker and his wife have volunteered with the Foundation to help with Draper Days in the past. “The Foundation is fantastic. It’s just that we’ve got to change the way we’re doing things because of the scrutiny that governments are under and being mindful of the taxpayer’s investment. For a long time, it made sense. The city was small and the volunteers were great. But last year we had some volunteers who bowed out at the last minute because they had conflicts come up and we had to step in and do it anyway. If we’re going to have to ultimately run it, we may as well plan and be in charge of it,” Walker said.

In addition to the city writing a sizeable check to the Foundation, the city was providing public safety and clean up, Walker said.

City Manager David Dobbins met with the Foundation last fall to communicate the city’s intent to take over Draper Days. “It’s probably past time to have done it,” Dobbins told the city council at a November meeting. 

According to Dobbins, the city has provided $150,000 annually to the Foundation the last several years, and the Foundation had requested $200,000 in funding for this year before the city decided to take over Draper Days. “Our expectation is to keep the budget roughly the same,” Dobbins said. 

The mayor assures residents that planning is well underway with Community Events Manager David Wilks working on Draper Days, aided by a recently hired part-time city employee. Walker is forming a working committee with three city staff members, some of what he called “key volunteers” from the community, and councilmembers Marsha Vawdrey and Tasha Lowery. 

Wilks told the city council at the Jan. 17 meeting that he has new ideas including valet parking for bikes to encourage residents to bike to Draper Days if they can, an artisan market featuring as many local vendors as possible, a children’s stage for performing acts like puppeteers and jugglers, line-dancing instruction one night, a bingo night, and a teen area. 

According to Walker, the city council wants to see the event be a bit smaller and more of what he termed “Draper-centric” including using local bands this year. “We’re probably going to scale it back a little and make it have more of a hometown feel,” Walker said. “A lot of people will say it’s gotten a little too big.”