Steven & Spenser cleaning the streets of Orangeville back in 2013. Photo by Vikki Glinskii of The RV Project.
The infamous Rodeo Games during the inaugural Festival.
Honored with the 2018 Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation Economic Impact Award. Photo by Diego Romo.
The main organizers. From left to right: Vikki Glinskii, Amanda Leonard, & Adriana Chimaras!
It all started on a rest day...
Back in Spring 2013, a handful of dirtbag climbers emerged from the canyons to volunteer for a town cleanup. With unkempt hair and clothing in disrepair, the local residents weren’t sure what to make of them. Word of the civic-minded visitors spread quickly, and local officials came out that very morning to Orangeville City Park to meet these folks and find out why so many people, from so many places, were spending weeks at a time in one of the emptiest counties in Utah.
It turned out that the sister towns at the mouth of Joe’s Valley, Orangeville and Castle Dale, were wholly unaware that some of the best bouldering in America sits just a few miles outside city limits.
At the time, Amanda Leonard was a volunteer with Emery County’s nascent tourism department, and though she knew little about climbing (and had never met a climber), she reached out to one of the volunteering dirtbags with the idea of starting up a bouldering festival in Joe’s Valley. This would turn out to be a very, very good idea.
The dirtbag that Amanda reached out to happened to be Steven Jeffery. Steven thought the idea was a good one, but didn't have the time or want to organize. So his partner, Adriana Chimaras, immediately took the reigns and began gathering a small group of passionate organizers.
Adriana reached out to close friends that she knew could help - Katie Boué and The RV Project (made up of Spenser Tang-Smith & Vikki Glinskii). This small team pulled the Fest together in a matter of a couple months, and the inaugural Joe's Valley Festival was held Thanksgiving Weekend 2015.
Since then, “the Fest” has quickly become one of the top rock climbing events in America. The organizers of the Fest believe that as the popularity of climbing continues to grow, it is vital to craft a culture that focuses on positive relationships with the land we recreate on, the towns that host our visits, and the people that welcome us.
In 2017, Joe's Valley Festival officially became a 501c3 non-profit to better serve our mission to enhance the local economy and build community by bringing rock climbers and locals together around our shared enthusiasm for the outdoors.
In 2018, the Fest was honored to receive the Economic Impact Award from the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation. In 2019, the Fest was featured in the Reel Rock 14 film, United States of Joe's for fostering connections between the growing numbers of visiting climbers and the residents of Emery County.
“It’s not just a bouldering festival, it’s a community celebration that brings the locals and folks from around the world together,” said Castle Dale Mayor Danny Van Wagoner. “No matter who you are or where you’re from, the Joe’s Valley Fest is an event you will feel welcome at and will absolutely love.”
Join us in Emery County the last weekend of September, just as the temperatures start to cool down! Check out photos from past festivals, and make sure to follow along on Instagram and Facebook to be the first to get the beta on what's happening in Joe's!
Who We Are
Joe’s Valley Fest is brought to you by the local communities of Orangeville and Castle Dale, who have generously donated their time and business resources for the festival, local climbers like Steven Jeffery and Adriana Chimaras, the folks of The RV Project, and contributions from the SLCA, Access Fund, and our event sponsors. And YOU! Thank you so much for being a part of Joe’s Valley Fest.
All photos by Spenser Tang-Smith of The RV Project unless otherwise noted.