Nutcracker Tea Raises Money for Children’s Justice Center

The Wasatch Dance Center Foundation’s Nutcracker Tea was held December 35 as a fundraiser for the Children’s Justice Center (CJC). The foundation normally puts on several benefit performances of the Nutcracker each December. They brought in $14,500 for the CJC in 2019. This year, the full-length show was unable to be performed because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Instead, the Nutcracker Tea became a bigger, more involved production, with Zermatt Resort donating their Bernese Event Center. The group performed a 35-minute Nutcracker ballet with narration. The Nutcracker Tea also included sweets and a fun Christmas atmosphere for the four performances. Approximately 800 people attended.

Accommodations were made at the event to protect against Covid-19. Tables were spaced apart, and patrons were able to purchase seating for an entire table to keep familiar groups together.

Several sponsors participated in staging the event, including Lee’s, Kneaders, Suss Cookies, and Spin Café, along with many others. “We’re so grateful for the sponsors to be able to make it happen like it did,” said parent volunteer Corine Cook. “The community came through for us and helped us make it pretty awesome. This year’s event raised even more money than usual for the Wasatch County CJC.

The Children’s Justice Center is a child-friendly interviewing facility set aside for abused or otherwise mistreated children. Interviews are recorded and given to law enforcement and child protection workers. Referrals are made for follow-up services. Aid is also considered for those in need of aftercare services.

According to Kenna Jones, Director of the Wasatch County CJC, “It’s just a team effort to help the kids through that process. . . . It’s a one-time thing, where everyone comes to the child, instead of the child going a whole bunch of places to relive the trauma.” Last year, the CJC interviewed about 100 children. Currently this year, about 160 cases have already been processed through the Wasatch County center.

The Children’s Justice Center cancelled their popular gingerbread fundraiser this year. However, in addition to the Nutcracker Tea donations, the center also received a grant from the Heber City CARES funds to help with operating costs for this year.

Heber Valley Artisan Cheese held their 2nd annual Ice Sculptures Exhibition this weekend. Several local businesses sponsored the sculptures being displayed. There were also two different ice carving demonstrations. The event was free to the public.

The annual event began last year when Carolee Kohler saw ice sculpting on a Hallmark movie and thought it would be a fun idea for their farm. They are also considering a woodcarving event.

According to Lindsey Strother, social media and events coordinator, each sculpture takes between 1-3 hours to carve. “We contacted Amazing Ice Creations back in November, and we reached out to local companies to sponsor the ice sculptures,” she said. “Yesterday morning around 9 am, they came in a massive truck and dropped them all off for us, and we set them up.”

Along with the ice sculptures, sponsors receive a sign and canopy for the display and social media marketing. The sponsors decide what they want to have sculpted. After the event, they can take the ice sculptures and display them at their businesses. The creations normally last a couple of weeks. Some will be left in the field and can be viewed throughout the week.

The ice this year included Olaf, company logos, animals, and other items. Darron Kingston, the sculptor, has carved ice for over 10 years with his dad. According to Kingston, “I like sculptures that give me a challenge. Here, for example, my favorite was the lumberjack.” One of his favorite past creations was a 9-foot bear.

Grant Kohler, owner of Heber Valley Artisan Cheese, explained, “We decided to do something that was free and something that people could just get out and come and enjoy. Especially this year with Covid, it seems like Januarys are slow months. People are looking for things to be able to get outside and do.” He continued, “Businesses pay in and buy the sculptures, we have them sculpted, and then we just let people come and enjoy them.” Kohler estimated around 3,000 to 4,000 people will stop by the event.

The dairy farm also offers cheese-making classes and tours of their new robotic barn. “The tours are everyday except Sunday,” according to Kohler. “People hayride over, intermingle with the cows, see the barn and amenities, and watch the cows be milked. The cows will literally go get milked on their own.” Tickets for the tours and other events are available on the Heber Valley Artisan Cheese website: https://hebervalleyartisancheese.com/.