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'Pie and Beer Day' celebration cancelled due to uptick in Salt Lake's COVID-19 cases

COURTESY Bad Brad Wheeler Pie and Beer Day pic 9.jpg
Patrons of "Pie and Beer Day" event sample local pies and brews. (Photo courtesy Bad Brad Wheeler)

The popular "Pie and Beer Day" celebration at Salt Lake City's Beer Bar has been cancelled for the second year in a row.

The previous year's celebration was cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic, but this year's plans for the rollicking and tasty celebration of all things pie and beer has been cancelled because of the alarming uptick of COVID-19 cases and the dwindling vaccination numbers in Utah.

Pie and Beer Day organizer, and community radio staple, Bad Brad Wheeler said it just didn't feel right throwing the party amidst the rising number of positive COVID-19 cases. He said:

We realized nobody wanted to throw an event that could possibly put somebody in the hospital or kill somebody or overload our hospitals.

The event's cancellation comes as nearly 300 Utah residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19. On Wednesday, Utah recorded over 800 new cases and four deaths attributed to the virus. State-wide models made by the health system show hospitalizations are 45 percent higher than they were this time last year.

Wheeler said he's dismayed by the lack of concern over the rising coronavirus numbers. "Some people think about this virus as just like, well I'm the one that gets sick – but you don't realize when you get sick how many other people you drag into this thing."

In an Instagram post, Beer Bar co-owner Richard Noel said they had big plans for this year's celebration. "Our plans were in place to close down half of the block on 200 south, but we ultimately felt it was in the best interest to hold out for a bigger and better Pie and Beer Day next year."

Pie and Beer Day is a tongue-in-cheek play on words regarding Utah's official state holiday which commemorates the entry of Brigham Young and the first group of Latter-day Saint pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847.

Wheeler and the owners of the Beer Bar first popularized the event in 2013 when they had an overwhelming turnout for the first Pie and Beer Day celebration.

"I remember telling my coworkers I wanted to do it and they were like 'this is a dumb idea – this isn't going to go very far, this sounds kind of gross actually,' " Wheeler said in an interview with 2News.

"I said 'I have a feeling, I got an idea.' And then two days later the New York Times called and then it just went out across the universe. It was on CNN, Time, it was in the Chicago Sun, it was in the Washington Post, it was everywhere!"

Over the following years the event has continued to grow in size and popularity.

Wheeler, who's worked in the bar industry for a long time, said he's happy to see people look forward to the holiday.

It's kind of a day that a lot of people outside of the Mormon faith would feel a little bit lonely. And then when we had Pie and Beer Day, I think it was just everyone wanting to have their own fingerprint on that holiday.

"I think that's really what Pie and Beer Day does – it opens up the holiday for everybody," Wheeler added.

Along with slinging pies and ice-cold brews, the celebration is also a major fundraising event for the non-profit radio station KUAA. Wheeler is asking those who would have attended the event this year to consider going to KUAA's website and making a donation.