July 07, 2010
Politically-charged Fox News commentator keeps speech low-key for July Fourth event.
LEFT: Fox News commentator Glenn Beck delivers the keynote address Saturday for Huntsman Springs' "Celebrate America" event in Driggs. CITIZEN PHOTO / BRADLY J. BONER
When Fox News commentator Glenn Beck was booked to perform at the first “Celebrate America” event hosted by Huntsman Springs in Driggs, the news was met with both critical and promising praise in Teton Valley.
“I’m not a fan of Glenn Beck’s politics on TV,” said former Grand Targhee Resort owner Mori Bergmeyer. “He was funny. He was a good person to have for the Fourth of July. I was impressed with how he handled himself because I thought it would have been more political,” he said of Saturday’s performance.
Bergmeyer was curious about the event given the amount of press generated through letters in local newspapers both for and against Beck’s presence in Teton Valley.
Beck was sponsored by the Huntsman Family to take part in the “Celebrate America” event, hosted on the driving range of the golf course at Huntsman Springs to a crowd of more than 6,000, according to David Huntsman.
Though his talk was billed as a nonpolitical performance, some rallied against the conservative radio and TV star who, nationally, champions against liberal and progressive views. Others in the valley embraced his appearance and hung signs that read “Welcome Glenn Beck, God Bless America.” The Teton County, Idaho, Democratic Party put out a call to assemble against Beck’s performance including a letter writing campaign in local newspapers and a possible protest at the event.
“I’m sorry I spent any time thinking about a protest,” said Teton County Democratic Party Chair Skip Dempsey, who attended the performance. “His performance was not worth it.”
Dempsey said he had 60 people respond to an e-mail that asked for protesters, but after talking to state Democratic Party leaders, he decided to drop protest plans. Dempsey said Beck was “uninspiring, uninformed and unprofessional.”
“He may be a good friend of the Huntsmans, but I don’t know what his being here achieved,” Dempsey said.
After an introduction by Huntsman family patriarch Jon M. Huntsman Sr., Beck launched into an hour’s speech on part of America’s founding history.
Working from the time of Christopher Columbus’s discovery of America and ending around the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln’s tenure as president, his performance was also a call to remember the importance of “divine providence” and the need to keep prayer, faith in God and biblical principals part of the American fabric.
“We are regular listeners,” said Carol Hall, of Victor, who attended the Saturday event. “I am a fan and I will say this: I didn’t know what to expect. That was a history lesson for me. We sat next to a woman who just became a citizen [of America] and she said you just don’t know how good you have it here. We had tears in our eyes.”
David Huntsman, son of Jon M. Huntsman Sr. and one of three investors for Huntsman Springs, said he did not know what Beck was going to specifically speak about that evening but was pleased with the first “Celebrate America” event.
“The feedback we’ve received is positive,” Huntsman said. “He uplifted, inspired, and it was most appropriate for the occasion. I was thrilled by his performance. He delivered a terrific message, one we don’t hear enough.”
Huntsman said Beck asked when he could come back to Teton Valley for an encore.
“He loved his time here in the valley and very much looks forward to coming back,” Huntsman said, neither confirming nor denying a second Glenn Beck performance in the future.