Utah Storytelling Guild president recounts tales of Utah history

Karl Behling enchants the audience with stories of mountain men and pioneers. The Provo Pioneer Village is a heritage and cultural site with immersive experiences to teach people about the pioneers’ lifestyles. (Dylan Eubank)

Karl Behling, president of the Utah Storytelling Guild, visited the Provo Pioneer Village on June 10. Behling has been a professional storyteller since 1999 and was the main speaker for the Pioneer Village’s Monday Storytelling night.

Behling told stories of mountain men and the pioneers. Many of his stories pertained to the founding of Utah and its significance.

“All stories are true. Some are just more true than others,” Behling said to the audience.

The Provo Pioneer Village is a live museum with a collection of authentic pioneer houses, some made of wood and adobe.

The George A. Smith Chapter of the Sons of Utah Pioneers, a group of men in the 1930s dedicated to preserving pioneer heritage, founded the village.

According to the village’s website, “In 1931, David Loveless donated the John Turner home, a barn and his large collection of artifacts to the local chapter of the SUP for the purpose of preserving Provo history. He, along with members of the Sons of Utah Pioneers, and in partnership with Provo City which provided a location, assembled and relocated the buildings and artifacts we have today.”

Since 1931, the owners of the village brought more of these historic houses to the village site and placed them on concrete bases. They turned these run-down buildings into a living museum. The pioneers may have passed, but their legacy lives on through the people at the museum.

Elaine Brewster, one of the docents at the village, smiles for the camera. Provo Pioneer Village hosted their first Monday Storytelling Night to immerse visitors in the lives of late pioneers. (Dylan Eubank)

Elaine Brewster, one of the village’s docents and a descendant of pioneers, works at the village and adores the feeling of the village.

“I was a member of The Tabernacle Choir and we stopped in Nauvoo to sing,” Brewster said. “As soon as you step onto the grounds, you will feel something. This (village) has the same feeling. It’s really wonderful. And, you know, these were real people.”

Brewster explained the importance of learning about Utah’s pioneer heritage and those who came before.

“Even though we think we’re really clever, we’re not. We build on what other people did before us. These are the founding people. These are the people who started it. We build on them,” Brewster said. “I think it’s really important to remember their trials.”

The village site is free admission and has plenty of immersive experiences for students and families.

“It was pretty neat. I think it is underrated,” Andrew Cherpeski, one of the visitors to the village, said. “We’ve passed by it a lot of times.”

Cherpeski said he has not been able to visit the village until now due to the village’s limited hours.

The village is open from Memorial Day until Labor Day on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. On weekdays, the hours are from 5-8 p.m. On Saturdays, the facility is open from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

For more information about events held by the Provo Pioneer Village, visit their website here.

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