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Sagebrush, handcarts and even live animals are part of the props in an outdoor pageant to honor Mormon pioneers who came to Utah. Three-hundred Nephi residents are volunteering to be part of the pioneer cast.
Dan Memmott, Cast Member: “We hope to portray what really happened to them and let the people in the audience really feel like they are part of the handcart companies."
The pageant tells the story of the Willie and Martin handcart companies. The pioneers were moving to Utah in 1856, but in Wyoming they became caught in harsh winter conditions. Many died before a rescue party from Salt Lake arrived to bring food and supplies.
The story inspired a family in Nephi to start the handcart pageant.
Brent Boswell: "When we started going back to Wyoming and learning of the people and feeling of what they went through and we became addicted to it and went back three or four times in one summer."
Those involved in the handcart pageant admit they have little experience in theatre, but they say it's the story of the pioneers that gives the pageant real meaning.
Auralee Brooks, Cast Member: "I have a pioneer ancestor, Elsie Peterson who came across with handcart pioneers so I've started researching her and find out about her."
Now ancestors of those handcart pioneers believe they have found a way to honor the heritage of their pioneer forefathers by re-telling their story of faith and survival.
The Nephi Handcart Pageant runs nightly through Saturday night at the Juab County fairgrounds. The show begins at 9 p.m. and admission is free.