It has been a tough 12 months for the Provo Pioneer Village, but despite vandalism, road construction and COVID-19, the village will open on Memorial Day.
The Pioneer Village will have a soft opening Monday from 5 to 8 p.m. The historic Provo buildings will feature a live blacksmith and woodworking demonstration. “Brigham Young” will stop in on Monday as well.
“No autographs (from Brigham) unless someone has a 6-foot-long pencil,” village spokesman Mike Nielson quipped.
While still required to observe the yellow low-risk guidelines for COVID-19 in Utah, Nielson said the village is ready to entertain and educate with social distancing.
“This is brand new for all of us and we will make it as fun as we can,” Nielson said. “Your help will make it a safe time for everyone.”
Those visiting the living museum will sign in with a docent. The village will allow 50 people in at a time. Those visiting also are asked to bring their own masks.
If visitors are in a group or family they are asked to stay in that group and social distance. Hand sanitizer should be used when entering and leaving the village, according to Nielson.
For the time being, the village is asking that children under 8 years old stay home.
“We want you to have fun, but for health safety we have these limitations for a little longer,” Nielson said in a press release. “We look forward to your coming again when we are fully open, and play and have fun.”
The village has been closed since the Fall Harvest events, according to Nielson.
“We had our fall harvest event but we had to cancel our Christmas program as we had no way to access the village with the (500 West) construction,” Nielson said. “There was no entrance from west, nor north, nor south, nor east nor from on top or bottom. It was a sad day.”
Just prior to the Fall Harvest events, vandals broke into the village — not once, but twice in one week.
On Sept. 14, a trespasser climbed the fence at the museum and defaced a large aluminum ox on the museum grounds, according to the police report.
“The unknown suspect used pink ground-marking spray paint, which was likely stolen from a nearby construction site,” said. Lt. Brian Taylor with the Provo Police Department following the vandalism.
The paint was easily removable, so damages were small, according to Taylor.
But just five days later a bike patrol officer was pedaling around the museum property and saw an unattended bicycle inside the village, according to Taylor.
“He found the museum owner, Mr. Steven Nelson, and asked him about it. Mr. Nelson said he was cleaning up more criminal mischief at the museum and wanted to make a police report,” Taylor said.
Nelson reported that between noon on Sept. 18 and 4 p.m. on Sept. 19, four windows and a lamp had been shattered. It also looked like parts of the building had been thrown around, Taylor said.
“They had broken out all of the glass in the general store, half of the glass from the Turner home and one frame in the Loveless home,” Nelson said in his report. “They stole candy and games from the store.”
Nielson is hoping for better luck this summer. He said future days and times for the public are: Mondays and Wednesdays from 5-8 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
This is subject to change as state and city guidelines are altered.
Nielson said the village is also looking for docent volunteers or skilled craft demonstrators or volunteer support team members.