Tag Archives: Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City names street for Harvey Milk

The Salt Lake City Council has decided to name a street after pioneering gay leader Harvey Milk, the latest display of its position as a blue island in a sea of deep-red, where the prevailing Mormon faith still has a fraught relationship with the LGBT community.

Utah’s capital city recently elected its first openly gay mayor and its second sitting gay councilman, creating an increasingly friendly atmosphere for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in the home of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The conservative religion’s tone on gay issues has softened in recent years, but it still opposes same-sex marriage, maintains homosexuality is a sin and recently banned baptisms for the children of gay parents. Faith leaders said the highly criticized move would avoid putting children in a tug-of-war between their parents and church teachings.

The Mormon church declined to comment on the council’s unanimous vote to rename the street. Sponsor Stan Penford, the city’s first openly gay councilman, said that leaders likely would have reached out if they had a strong opposition.

Milk set the tone for the modern gay rights movement and his uncompromising calls for gay people to come out of the closet inspired a generation of activists, including many in Utah, said supporters who spoke at a Tuesday hearing that drew about 100 people.

“This sends a loud message that Salt Lake City values inclusion and diversity,” said Troy Williams, director of the group Equality Utah.

Several people spoke against the idea, with many saying that a local leader or inventor should be honored instead. The street serves as the ending spot for an annual parade honoring the deeply felt legacy of Mormon pioneers.

“Those are our pioneers, not San Francisco’s pioneers,” said resident Ralph Pahnke.

The street with the honorary name will be located near thoroughfares named for civil rights icons like Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez. Lined with coffee shops, restaurants and a community garden, it runs through one of the city’s most in-demand neighborhoods.

Milk became one of the first openly gay people to be elected to public office in the U.S. when he won a seat on San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors in 1977. A disgruntled former city supervisor assassinated him and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone at City Hall in 1978.

The activist’s life was memorialized in the Oscar-winning 2008 movie “Milk,” and he also has been honored with a commemorative stamp and a posthumous Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. The San Diego City Council approved naming a street for Milk in 2012, something officials said was a first.

The honorary name will be placed on part of a street that is nine blocks from Mormon church headquarters. Temple Square was the site of protests in 2008 after the church supported efforts to pass a short-lived gay marriage ban in California.

Mormon leaders subsequently softened their tone, backing a Utah anti-discrimination law last year that protects gay and transgender people from housing and employment discrimination while safeguarding the rights of religious groups and individuals.

As many as two-thirds of Utah’s 3 million residents are believed to be members of the Mormon religion, though some are more involved in the faith than others.

Utah’s capital also has supported a thriving LGBT community. An annual LGBT pride parade is the second largest in the state — behind only the yearly celebration of Mormon pioneers.

The city’s first openly gay mayor, Jackie Biskupski, took office this year, as well as its second sitting gay councilman. Derek Kitchen and his husband were one of three couples who sued to overturn the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

 

Utah county bans pet store sales of commercially bred dogs, cats

Utah’s most populous county banned the sale of commercially bred dogs and cats in pet stores, joining a growing number of cities around the country in a step designed to reduce the number of pets born in inhumane conditions.

Some of the nation’s largest pet companies already have moved away from such sales in favor of offering animals from shelters, and a vote this week added Salt Lake County to a list of nearly 90 municipalities that have passed measures targeting so-called puppy and kitten mills. And that number is growing, advocates say. 

“There are great pets that need a home. We don’t need to make more,” said Deann Shepherd, spokeswoman for the Humane Society of Utah. 

But pet stores say the rule, which also includes rabbits, unfairly targets local shops with a good track record on animal welfare. 

“I don’t sell puppy-mill puppies,” Todd Poulsen, owner of Mark’s Ark Pet Store in Taylorsville, said Wednesday. “They want to close down their pet stores just in case we do.”

Pets from puppy and kitten mills are kept in crowded, unsanitary kennels and many don’t have adequate access to veterinary care, food or water, animal advocates say.

A shop called Puppies `N Love in Phoenix sued to challenge a similar ordinance passed in 2013, but a judge upheld it in July. U.S. District Judge David Campbell acknowledged that it will burden the business but said it was not the court’s place to judge the fairness of the city ban. 

The measure in Utah applies to unincorporated areas of Salt Lake County. Though Poulsen’s store is not affected by the ban, he’s worried about it starting a domino effect of similar ordinances.

Leaders in Salt Lake City will likely consider passing a similar measure before early December, City Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall said. 

There are no stores in the city or unincorporated parts of the county that actually sell commercially bred pets _ even though they are two of the biggest population centers in the state, officials said.

Two of the biggest pet retailers in the country, PetSmart and Petco, already have moved to offering shelter dogs. 

Melanie Kahn, senior director of the anti-puppy mill campaign for the Humane Society of the United States, says that customers have heard about poor conditions at some commercial breeders, and they don’t want to risk getting a dog bred in inhumane conditions. 

Kahn says pet store bans are an effective way to combat puppy and kitten mills, but store owners say it’s not fair to claim all dogs or cats for sale are bred in poor conditions. 

A business that violates the ordinance could have its business license revoked, said Arlyn Bradshaw, the Salt Lake County councilman who proposed the rule. People who want a purebred dog or cat animal can still go to licensed breeders. 

Bradhaw said he’s aware of only a few pet stores in northern Utah that sell commercially bred animals. 

The council passed the measure on a 6-1 vote this week. Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton said she would have preferred educating people about the issue instead. 

Salt Lake City may name street for gay rights leader Harvey Milk

Salt Lake City could soon have a street named after pioneering gay leader Harvey Milk. 

City officials say they have been working with LGBT leaders on the initiative, which would place Harvey Milk Boulevard near thoroughfares named for civil rights icons such as Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Cesar Chavez. 

If approved, the name would go on 900 South, about a mile and half from the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Temple Square was the site of protests in 2008, after the Mormon church supported efforts to pass a short-lived gay marriage ban in California. 

But Salt Lake City also has supported an active lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. 

An annual gay pride parade is the second largest in the state — second only to a yearly celebration of Mormon pioneers. When a judge overturned Utah’s gay marriage ban in December 2013, Mayor Ralph Becker presided over unions of same-sex couples who flocked to wed in the hours after the ruling. 

“We’ve had so many tremendous victories this year alone, and I think Harvey really set the tone for the LGBT movement — how to be successful and organize us politically,” said Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah. 

Williams said he first sat down with Becker more than a year ago. The idea could come before the City Council before the end of the year, said Councilman Stan Penfold, the first openly gay council member. 

“My hope is that we can send a message as a city that we acknowledge that kind of movement,” Penfold said. They are still working on what part of the street will bear Milk’s name, he said. 

Milk became one of the first openly gay men elected to public office in the U.S. when he won a seat on San Francisco’s board of supervisors in 1977. His uncompromising calls for gays to come out of the closet inspired a generation of activists, but he was assassinated at City Hall along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone by a disgruntled former city supervisor in 1978. 

The activist’s life was memorialized in the Oscar-winning 2008 movie “Milk,” and he’s also been honored with a commemorative stamp and a posthumous Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. The San Diego City Council approved naming a street for Milk in 2012, something officials said was a first. 

“Harvey is a true icon for the LGBT community. He set the standard for coalition building and collaborative leadership,” Williams said. “He is our Martin Luther King Jr.”

‘Book of Mormon’ is worthy of all its hype — and then some

What’s so funny about religion?

Practically everything when you look at it through the eyes of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, best known for their Comedy Central series South Park. Teamed with composer/lyricist Robert Lopez, they took Broadway by storm in 2011 with The Book of Mormon, an affectionately irreverent musical about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The play racked up nine Tony Awards, along with most of the others. It’s broken box office records in New York, Los Angeles, London and Sydney, as well as numerous cities in between.

The original Broadway cast album of the show is the highest charting such recording in four decades.

Wrapped in such ribbons of hype, the Broadway national touring production of Mormon finally arrived at Milwaukee’s Marcus Center for the Performing Arts this week. This polished, energetic version of the mega-hit managed to impress despite the high expectations.

The story revolves around Elders Kevin Price and Arnold Cunningham, who are sent on a mission — a Mormon rite of passage for males between high school and college — to Uganda. Transplanting the lily white, suburban Salt Lake City lambs to AIDS-devastated, war-lord oppressed Uganda is the perfect setup for a classic fish-out-of-water comedy. Throw in some catchy, instantly familiar music, brazenly clever lyrics, a twirling, tap-dancing chorus line of gay-ish Mormon boys in white shirts and black ties, and the occasional appearance of an African man proclaiming, “I have maggots in my scrotum,” and you get the general picture.

But this finely honed play transcends the set-up, asking profound metaphysical questions about the nature of faith and the leap of logic required to maintain it.

Elder Price (played by David Larsen on Wednesday night in the first act, but replaced by Ryan Bondy in the second), is a budding Mormon star.  Popular and pious, he completed missionary training at the top of his class. He’s prayed to be assigned to his favorite place in the world — Orlando, Fla. — but Holy Father has other plans for him.

Elder Cunningham (Chad Burris) is Price’s polar opposite. Pudgy, friendless and prone to spinning fanciful yarns, he’s never even read the Book of Mormon. He hopes his missionary service will redeem him in the eyes of his disappointed father.

When the two opposites are teamed up for the trek to Uganda, the play veers into bromance territory. Cunningham thinks he’s finally found a best friend, while Price believes he can reform his floundering nebbish of a partner while saving Africans’ souls.

The birth of the duo’s friendship is celebrated in the song “You and Me (But Mostly Me),” in which Price channels his inner Gaston as he sings about the great things the two will accomplish together, thanks mostly to him.

It’s a funny, insightful song that typifies the show’s hilariously cynical musical numbers. Highlights of the playlist include “Turn It Off,” which explains how Mormons deal with upsetting feelings, such as one missionary’s homosexual longings. In “Man Up,” Cunningham buoys his confidence to preach solo after Price falls apart. The musical’s showstopper, if you can single out one, is “Spooky Mormon Hell,” which takes Price to an underworld where he’s sodomized and tormented by the likes of Hitler, Jeffrey Dahmer and Genghis Khan, while evil spirits cavort around with cups of Starbucks coffee (Mormons consider caffeine consumption to be a sin).

By the end of the play, Cunningham has converted an entire village by recreating The Book of Mormon for his Ugandan audience, much as Paul recreated Judaism to make it more saleable to the pagans. In Cunningham’s version of the Mormon story, the Angel Moroni descends to Earth from the starship Enterprise, and humans are admonished to cure themselves of AIDS by having intercourse with frogs. Heaven, of course, is a place called Salt Lake City.

The most inventive number of the play is the villagers’ unexpected presentation of Cunningham’s version of The Book of Mormon to visiting LDS officials. The number is classic Parker-Stone fare, with a chorus line graphically suffering from dysentery.

The officials promptly order all of the missionaries to return home, but they defiantly decide to stay and continue their work. Their converts understand what they had missed all along — that stories in holy books are symbolic — not meant to be taken literally. Led by the Africans’ wisdom, everyone realizes that heaven is not Salt Lake City but rather a place inside their souls. Perhaps there’s a lesson there for fundamentalist adherents of all faiths.

The mostly young actors in the touring production are universally flawless. There’s not a missed dance step, a flubbed punch line or an off-pitch tone among them. The choreography is fresh and very athletic.

The standout in this cast of standouts is golden-voiced Candace Quarrels as Nabulungi, a beautiful young woman of the village. Her innocence and longing for something to believe in provide a human connection with the audience amid all the antics. With grace and charm, she grounds the play in its meaning.

The Tony Award winning sets by Scott Pask are relatively simple but serviceable and they easily accommodate a cast that seems literally to be about the size of a small village.

Despite the comically shocking situations and edgy lyrics and dialogue, this is an old-fashioned musical in style, laced with homages to musicals from Broadway’s golden era that seasoned audience members will recognize. The Book of Mormon is one of the most entertaining shows you’re ever likely to see. This is one that you’ll regret missing.

On stage

The Book of Mormon continues at Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, 929 N. Water St., through May 31. For tickets, go to marcuscenter.org. You can enter a lottery for $25 tickets on the day of performance.

Mormon school removes Hallmark’s same-sex wedding cards

Greeting cards celebrating same-sex marriages turned up at the Brigham Young University bookstore on Aug. 19.

Placed by Hallmark, the cards reading “Mr. and Mr.” and “Mrs. and Mrs.” were quickly removed when bookstore staff discovered them after photos surfaced online. The outside vendor stocked the shelves without realizing the school wouldn’t want to sell the cards marketed to buyers celebrating unions between two brides and two grooms, BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said.

It wasn’t immediately clear when they were placed, but Jenkins said they weren’t up long. BYU staffers have spoken with the company about leaving similar cards off university store shelves in the future. The school doesn’t plan on ending its contract with Hallmark.

“This was just someone stocking the shelves who wasn’t aware,” she said. “We’ve been able to work with them.”

Asked why they were removed, Jenkins referenced the BYU honor code. It states that while being attracted to people of the same gender doesn’t violate the honor code, acting on those feelings is a violation.

“Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings,” it states.

BYU is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has stood behind its belief that marriage should only be between a man and a woman despite a growing societal movement in support of legalizing gay marriage.

Calls to Hallmark weren’t returned Wednesday.

Samy Galvez, president of the group Understanding Same Gender Attraction (USGA) and a senior at BYU, said changes to the honor code in 2007 and 2010 allowed students to talk about their sexual orientation without fear of being expelled.

Though he declined to comment on the greeting cards, calling it an accident, Galvez said he’s generally found a welcoming environment at BYU.

“I was really amazed to see how welcoming and how loving people are,” he said. “Even though you know people adhere to a standard of conduct of not advocating for same-sex marriage, at the same time that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of showing empathy.”

Global anti-gay hate organization to meet in Salt Lake City

An international anti-gay hate group will hold its first worldwide conference in the U.S. next year — a four-day gathering in Utah.

The Rockford, Illinois-based World Congress of Families has about 40 partner organizations, including the Focus on the Family and Concerned Women for America. The organization says it brings together people of different religions and ethnicities to promote the “natural human family,” which it defines as a man and woman raising children with love and discipline.

The organization canceled this year’s international conference in Moscow due to turmoil related to Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

It chose Salt Lake City for its October 2015 gathering over St. Louis and Atlanta because it is an international city with experience hosting the Olympics, said Larry Jacobs, the group’s managing director. The conference is expected to draw about 3,000 people.

The Sutherland Institute, a public policy think tank in Utah that advocates for conservative values, put in the bid and is leading the event planning, Jacobs said. The World Congress of Families also will hold a smaller, regional conference in Salt Lake City this fall.

Its previous events have been in Madrid, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Poland, Mexico City, Geneva, Sydney and Prague.

Gay rights activists have won 18 cases in federal and state courts across the country since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act last summer.

Utah became one of the focal points for the same-sex marriage movement after a federal judge threw out its ban in December. An appeals court recently upheld that ruling, and the state plans to appeal.

The World Congress of Families opposes homosexuality and abortion, and is on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of hate groups for its anti-LGBT views.

The Human Rights Campaign, which supports gay rights and gay marriage, is an outspoken critic of the organization. Ty Cobb, HRC’s director of global engagement, said the World Congress of Families is a network of extremist groups that has been working to promote anti-LGBT rhetoric and legislation abroad, including in Russia and several African countries.

Cobb called Salt Lake City a strange choice for the worldwide conference.

“Whatever the World Congress of Families may believe in their head about the values of people of Salt Lake City, they are wrong,” Cobb said. “The values of the people of Salt Lake City are ones that promote inclusivity.”

Mormon founder of women’s group faces excommunication

Two months after Mormon Kate Kelly led hundreds in a demonstration to shed light on gender inequality in the religion — defying church orders to stay off Temple Square — the founder of a prominent Mormon women’s group is facing excommunication.

Kelly said she was shocked, dismayed and devastated to receive a letter earlier this week from the bishop of her congregation in Virginia informing her that a disciplinary hearing had been set for June 22 to discuss the possibility of her ouster. The leader of Ordain Women is accused of apostasy, defined as repeated and public advocacy of positions that oppose church teachings.

John P. Dehlin, the creator of a website that provides a forum for church members questioning their faith, is facing the same fate. He received his letter from a local church leader in Logan, Utah, giving him until June 18 to resign from the faith or face an excommunication hearing. The letter says church leaders are deeply concerned about Dehlin’s recent comments about no longer believing fundamental teachings of the faith.

The cases against the two lifelong members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mark the most high-profile examples of excommunication proceedings since 1993, said Armand Mauss, a retired professor of sociology and religious studies at Washington State University. That year, the church disciplined six Mormon writers who questioned church doctrine, ousting five and kicking out a sixth only temporarily.

Church leaders seem to be drawing a line between private or informal expressions of discontent with church teachings and public protests aimed at pressuring the church, Mauss said.

“The LDS Church is not a democratic institution, and has never claimed to be,” Mauss said in an email, “So such actions are interpreted by church leaders as attempts to displace or undermine their legitimate authority over church policies and teachings.”

Singling out two critics of church policy who have made themselves very visible seems like “boundary maintenance” by the church, said Jan Shipps, a retired religion professor from Indiana who is a non-Mormon expert on the church.

“They are saying to folks: `If you go this far, you are risking your membership,’ ” Shipps said.

Church officials said in a statement that there is room for questions and sincere conversations about the faith, but that some members’ actions “contradict church doctrine and lead others astray.”

In certain cases, local leaders step in to clarify false teachings and ensure other members aren’t misled, the church’s statement said. Disciplinary hearings only come after members are counseled and encouraged to change behavior.

“Some members in effect choose to take themselves out of the church by actively teaching and publicly attempting to change doctrine to comply with their personal beliefs,” the statement reads. “This saddens leaders and fellow members.”

Even if Kelly and Dehlin are kicked out of the church, the door will remain open for them to repent and return someday. Excommunication is not a lifelong ban.

Nobody has solid numbers on how many church members are excommunicated each year, but the number is probably between 10,000 to 20,000, a fraction of the 15 million worldwide members, said Matt Martinich, a member of the LDS church who analyzes membership numbers with the nonprofit Cumorah Foundation.

Kelly and Dehlin both hope to be allowed to continue to be members of a church that they love and that has been a part of their lives since birth. Both served Mormon missions and were married in temples.

Kelly, an international human rights lawyer, said she stands behind everything she has done since forming Ordain Women in 2013. She said she has not spoken out against church leaders or church doctrine, only saying publicly that men and women are not equal in the faith.

The bishop’s letter doesn’t include precise examples of why they accuse her of apostasy.

Her group drew the ire of church leaders in April when they marched on to Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City and asked to be allowed in a meeting reserved for members of the priesthood, which includes most males in the church who are 12 and older. They had been told previously they wouldn’t be let in and warned by church leaders to stay off church property to preserve the sanctity of general conference weekend.

Mormon church officials say the women’s group views represent only a small fraction of church members.

Kelly doesn’t plan to attend the June 22 disciplinary hearing in Virginia, calling it “both cowardly and un-Christ like” to hold the meeting after she had moved to Utah.

She does plan to send in a package of letters from friends, families and other members of Ordain Women about how they’ve been inspired and their faith strengthened by joining the group.

Kelly said the feminist Mormon movement won’t die even if she’s kicked out of the religion.

“Disciplining arbitrarily and unfairly one person is not going to stop this movement,” Kelly said.

Dehlin, a doctoral candidate in psychology who previously worked in the high tech industry, said he believes he’s being targeted not only for the website, Mormonstories.org, which he started nine years ago, but also for his outspoken support of the LGBT community.

He said he has no plans to take down the website or back down from being an ally for gays and lesbians. But Dehlin said he worries about the effects the upcoming proceedings may have on his four children and wife, and Mormons everywhere who have misgivings.

“Excommunicating me sends the message to thousands of church members who are struggling with doubts and questions that they are not welcome in the church,” Dehlin said.

Police officer who refused to work Utah Pride resigns

A Salt Lake City police officer who rejected an assignment riding a motorcycle at the front of last weekend’s gay Pride parade and was put on leave has now resigned.

Salt Lake City police officials said this week they received written notification of the officer’s resignation. The officer, whose name is being withheld, was put on leave last week after police said he refused to provide traffic control at Sunday’s parade. Police said they would not tolerate bias and bigotry.

Bret Rawson, an attorney hired by the officer, said this week that police defamed his client. Rawson said his client didn’t refuse to work, but asked to be reassigned other duties because he felt uncomfortable being viewed as an advocate for gay pride.

Rawson said the officer stepped down because of untenable work conditions.

Cop refuses to work Utah Pride Parade

A Salt Lake City police officer has been placed on leave after refusing an assignment to work at a gay pride parade.

The officer was among about 30 officers assigned to provide traffic control and security for the annual Utah Pride Parade on Sunday in Salt Lake City, said department spokeswoman Lara Jones.

“We don’t tolerate bias and bigotry in the department, and assignments are assignments … To allow personal opinion to enter into whether an officer will take a post is not something that can be tolerated in a police department,” Jones told KSL.

She declined comment on the officer’s reason for refusing the assignment.

The officer, whose name was not released, is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation.

Utah Pride Center spokeswoman Deann Armes said her group is pleased with the department’s stance and thinks officers should undergo sensitivity training before joining the force.

“Our goal is to make sure that police training and certification includes policies and oaths to ensure that all officers are committed to providing equal service and treatment of all citizens. Clearly, bigotry is alive and well,” Armes said in a statement.

Police Chief Chris Burbank has marched in the parade in the past, and three deputy chiefs will march Sunday while he is out of town.

The department also will have a community outreach and recruitment booth at the pride festival, Jones said, and participates in a standing committee to address public safety issues relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.

“We have gay men and women that serve in the police department,” Jones told The Salt Lake Tribune. “One officer’s situation does not reflect the vast majority of officers that work in the Salt Lake City Police Department and certainly not Chief Burbank’s.”

Outdoor gear expo has luxury for people and dogs

Wilderness gear is going soft, and not just for people. Dogs are getting their own luxury outdoor items.

A trend at the world’s largest outdoor-gear trade show is equipment and apparel that’s also fashionable, easy to use or comfortable — from roomy spoon-shaped sleeping bags and pillow-top air mattresses to espresso makers and camp stoves that do double duty boiling water and charging electronic devices. Other vendors offer rugged leashes, life vests and even energy bars just for dogs.

Barebones Inc., maker of a $2,000 safari-style tent, held a “glamping” festival at last summer’s Outdoor Retailer expo, which featured a wider assortment of luxury gear than the winter show. Glamping stands for glamorous camping, and the Utah company says the 160-pound tent lets people enjoy the outdoors without having to rough it.

With network and cable news anchors sporting jackets by The North Face on camera in the field, manufacturers don’t have to be reminded that backwoods fashion has hit the mainstream.

“We don’t pay for anything like that, but we like it when anyone wears our high-quality products,” said Todd Spaletto, president of The North Face.

Peter Metcalf, CEO of Salt Lake City-based Black Diamond Inc., introduced U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to his company’s “soft” and “sensual” line of jackets and stretch-woven pants as the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market opened. About 22,000 people were in Salt Lake City for the expo.

Jewell was CEO of Recreational Equipment Inc., or REI, for more than a decade before joining President Barack Obama’s cabinet last year. She was wearing a fleecy white REI jacket.

The merchandise bazaar for a lifestyle of outdoor adventure brought together 1,000 of the world’s manufacturers and distributors.

Shoppers weren’t allowed inside and no cash sales are conducted. Instead, storekeepers and big retailers placed orders for next year’s inventory. Suppliers range from industry giants Patagonia Inc. and Mountain Hardwear to tiny Ruffwear, which makes performance dog gear in Bend, Ore.

The expo has taken place in Utah since 1996 and pours $40 million into the local economy annually.

A year ago, organizers signed a contract to keep the expo in Salt Lake City through August 2016. The decision suspended a political standoff that had the 4,000-member Outdoor Industry Association threatening to leave over Gov. Gary Herbert’s land use policies.

Herbert, a Republican, responded by pledging to actively support the $5.8 billion economic sector in Utah with the appointment of an industry executive, Brad Petersen, as his outdoor-recreation chief.

Attendance was up 40 percent since 2006, according to the show’s organizer, Nielsen Expo Outdoor Group. The twin show in August brings out a larger crowd and is dominated by water sports.

Registered dogs were welcome even if the public was not. Nearly a dozen vendors at this week’s show were hawking specialized pooch gear, and dog parties are part of the activity on the show floor.

The dog outfitters say they’re going after a $53 billion pet industry and taking spoils from the big chains like PetSmart Inc. and Petco.

Kurgo Dog Products, from Salisbury, Mass., makes a jump seat that can restrain a dog inside a moving car. Also on display are rugged leashes, collars, harnesses and booties.

Competitors bow to Ruffwear Inc., the leader of the pack. Soon after he started making collapsible water and food bowls in 1994, the company’s founder, Patrick Kruse, was selling 8,000 a month to retailer L.L. Bean. Now he sells 47 different dog products, including a life jacket.

“We were the first to give dog products an outdoor perspective,” Kruse said. “We’ve had a lot of offers of investment, but we want to grow organically. We never had to borrow money.”

TurboPUP, run by a former U.S. Air Force C-130 pilot, says it can’t make enough of its doggy energy bars that can stand in for a full meal and come in a foil package that’s easy to carry.

“We started in a kitchen making 3,000 bars a month,” said Kristina Guerrer, TurboPUP’s CEO. “It’s been crazy.”

The main ingredients include olive oil, egg yolk, juice concentrate and chia seeds, and company bakers from La Pine, Ore., swear they’re good enough for people.

The jam-packed expo underscored a thriving corner of the economy. Outdoor-gear sales grew 5 percent annually throughout recent years of recession, analysts said.

The show favored Utah, a place of rugged mountains and canyons and a cottage industry for innovators like Voile Manufacturing, which makes lightweight backcountry skis for $600 a pair. Voile laminates 3,000 skis and snowboards a year at a factory in a Salt Lake City suburb.

The winter show highlighted such leaps in technology as the ski bindings made by Dynafit. The company’s most popular model weighs just 530 grams, or less than 19 ounces.

Dynafit is out with a new $1,000 pair of bindings, the Beast, that performs as well as a heavier alpine binding in absorbing jolts that could knock a skier’s boot loose from a ski. The company also makes exceptionally lightweight skis and boots.

“We’re finally a noun in ski language,” said Eric Henderson, a marketing representative for the company’s North American operations, based in Boulder, Colo. “It’s taken some time — 30 years.”

Dynafit, headquartered in Munich, Germany, was bought by one of Europe’s largest outdoor brands, Bolzano, Italy-based Salewa International, in 2003.