AAEC convention host and Salt Lake Tribune editorial cartoonist Pat Bagley and author/illustrator/cartoonist Mark Pett and I did a bit of recon work last night hitting several nightlife locations. Despite Utah’s Mormon/squeaky clean image, downtown Salt Lake has a vast array of bars, brewpubs and restaurants with liquor licenses. We’re just trying to be thorough. You can thank us for our hard work later.
Pat gave me the skinny on how the convention is lining up. Some things are still getting nailed down, but I’m really liking how this is coming together.
Here’s what we know:
- Pat Oliphant will be there. Do I need to hype this one at all? Pat Oliphant will be there.
- Victor Navasky, who has a new book (The Art of Controversy: Political Cartoons and Their Enduring Power). I suspect he’ll talk about some of the material in his book.
- Cartoons and Cocktails – a silent auction gala to raise money for the AAEC. There will be a book signing for those who want to bring their books. This is open to the public. In fact most venues are open to the public. Pat is well connected here in Salt Lake. I’m anticipating many of these venues to be well attended.
- The panel/presentations that Pat has planned will be engaging. The speakers and panelists who are being lined up are all top notch – not the type of personalities to sit there and speak quietly into the microphone. It’s going to be entertaining.
As far as venues, this is going to be upscale. Hotel accommodations are at the Little America. It’s right on the Trax train line. You can get to and from the airport on the train. It also has free wifi for those who are in constant need of connecting to your social media outlets.
Two blocks east is The Leonardo (Utah’s Science and Technology Museum) where some of the panel/discussions/lunch will be held. It’s a great venue that seats up to 200 people. The Leonardo is right next to the Salt Lake City Library. No events at the library, but it has some amazing architecture very well worth your time to check it out.
Correction: There will be sessions in the library!
The event with Oliphant is at the Natural History Museum of Utah. This is not an inner-city, underfunded facility. It’s up on the benches overlooking the valley. It’s new and the Oliphant feting will be out on the patio with the great views, camaraderie, and of course drinks. It’s going to be memorable night.
Stepping outside the hotel, take the Trax train north about four blocks (free fare zone) and you’re in the heart of downtown with a vast array of restaurants, bars, brewpubs. Our outings have taken us to high end establishments that feel like a speak easy to the hole-in-the-wall (cheap drinks!) and everything in between. Everything you need is within easy walking distance or in the train’s free fare zone. The hotel also has a bar if you’re lazy or unadventurous.
For the afternoons where you’ll be free to explore, I highly suggest getting a group and heading up to Park City. It’s an old mining town turned skiing Mecca with three resorts surrounding the town. Utah’s Greatest Snow on Earth won’t be around, but most resorts have summer activities such as hiking, mountain biking, zip lines, alpine slides, etc. The Olympic park is in operation year round and you can watch athletes training on bob sleds and aerial ski jumping into swimming pools.
Downtown Salt Lake is head quarters to the Mormon church. It would be like going to Rome and not checking out the Vatican. The church loves their squeaky clean image and it’s on full display on Temple Square. Don’t expect to get into the temple, however.
The downtown area has all the shopping you can take in. High end stores as well as the mom-and-pop boutiques.
Sure you could do the treadmill in the morning to shake off the revelry from the night before or you could go for a walk or hike up Memory Grove – not too far from the hotel. It’s scenic and a popular place for healthy people activities.
And if you want a primer on all things Utah, it just so happens that the convention host wrote the book on it. Okay, not THE book, but A book on it. It’s informative and irreverent. Might be hard to find, but ought to be required reading before you get here.