Sawyer Brown, knife dancers highlight Festival

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    By Laurence Furr

    The LaVell Edwards Stadium will again house the July Fourth Stadium of Fire, an annual staple of America”s Freedom Festival in Provo. After 21 years of producing the Stadium of Fire, John Whittaker said this year”s show would be the best yet.

    This year”s show includes appearances by country band Sawyer Brown, Polynesian Cultural Center fire knife dancers and 2000 Olympic Greco Roman Wrestling Champion, Rulon Gardner, said spokeswoman Linda Walton.

    Whittaker said in scheduling each year”s acts, the staff strived to choose family-oriented entertainment.

    “We try to bring entertainment that has value for all ages, from the youngest kids all the way up to the grandparents,” he said.

    He said one act aimed at the children is Benny the Bomb, who gets in a box and then blows it up.

    Another family favorite will be Stacy Moore”s Mess of Mutts, Whittaker said.

    Moore, who normally performs in Las Vegas, has taken homeless dogs from shelters and trained them to do tricks.

    Sheri Whittaker, John”s wife, has been co-producing the Stadium of Fire with her husband since 1993.

    She describes this year”s show as “patriotic and exciting.”

    She said everyone should come to the show because of all the fun activities involved, including the fireworks.

    “We”ll have more on the field than we ever had before,” Sheri Whittaker said.

    Despite all the entertainment, Sheri said the pinnacle of the evening will be the swearing in of new U.S. citizens.

    John Whittaker said this year”s Freedom Festival is “the most patriotic show we”ve done.”

    “It”s a very emotional ceremony for those being sworn in and for those watching because they”ve been trying for years to become citizens,” John said. “When people walk out we want them to feel proud that they are American, even more so than when they walked in.”

    Sheri said another of the show”s patriotic highlights will be a choir of children singing homage to veterans and soldiers of the U.S. Armed Forces.

    She said she hopes that people participating “will have a greater understanding of what our soldiers have done for us.”

    John said he thinks participants will experience a feeling of patriotism.

    “We reflect year round about being an American, but this is a time we can do it as a group,” he said.

    Other highlights of the evening will be a field show with 700-plus dancers, a F-26 flyover and a skydiving team, Walton said.

    Tickets are priced from $12 to $25 and are on sale at the BYU Marriott Center Ticket Office and through SmithTix.

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