One hundred rings of a pioneer church bell and the shot of a cannon signaled the beginning of many activities celebrating the centennial of the dedication of the Star Valley Stake Tabernacle here. The commemoration was Aug. 14-15 for the landmark building, with its 140-foot tower, which was dedicated on Aug. 15, 1909, by President Joseph F. Smith.
The tabernacle, built between 1904 and 1909, was a source of great pride to the people of Star Valley. It has been said that nearly every family in the valley, including those who were not members of the Church, was involved in either raising funds for the building or in the actual construction of it. Built under the direction of A.V. Call, architect and A. Lu Hale, chairman of the building committee, it was the largest LDS Church building in Wyoming at the time.
The Afton Wyoming Stake was host for the centennial celebration, inviting neighboring Thayne Wyoming Stake to participate. The two stakes, which were created in 1978, originated from a split of the Star Valley Stake, which was organized in 1892.
The centennial was held in conjunction with the Afton Wyoming Stake conference that Saturday and Sunday. Elder Larry W. Gibbons of the Seventy and Elder Robert H. Garff, an Area Seventy, participated in the celebration before installing a new stake presidency during the conference.
The centennial celebration began with a Friday night concert by a 70-voice Star Valley Tabernacle Choir, made up of members from all of the wards in the valley. The concert featured special guest Tom Osmond of the famous Osmond family of singers who delivered a tribute to his great-grandfather, George Osmond, Jr., the first president of the original Star Valley Stake. He was stake president when the tabernacle was dedicated. The concert also featured an organ solo, played on the pipe organ that was acquired from the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple in 1987.
Entertainment and fun activities filled the Saturday celebration.
The day began with a 10-mile bike-a-thon from the site where the stone was quarried to build the tabernacle to the tabernacle itself. Many of the bike-a-thon participants rode the 10-plus miles in the name of their ancestors who contributed to the building of the tabernacle.
After the bike-a-thon, members of the Wyoming National Guard performed a flag-raising ceremony followed by a Centennial Brass Band playing hymns and patriotic songs. The brass band was formed in remembrance of the community brass bands that existed in the early days of Star Valley. In 1908, there was even a contest involving all of the community bands to raise money for the construction of the tabernacle.
The rest of the day was filled with indoor and outdoor activities. Inside the tabernacle there was a special display of historical pictures of the tabernacle and early Church leaders in Star Valley. Tools used in the construction of the tabernacle were also on display. Other exhibits included historical displays for each of the 11 communities that comprised Star Valley in 1909. A DVD featuring historical photos and modern aerial views of the tabernacle was also shown.
Outdoors, there was entertainment by local talent, pioneer games and activities for all to enjoy, as well as a display of buggies, carriages, period vehicles and farm implements.
The celebration ended with a special ceremony on the lawn west of the tabernacle tower. A crowd gathered for the unveiling of a stone centennial plaque installed on the tabernacle tower and the first public showing of artifacts found in a time capsule recently discovered in the cornerstone of the tower. Primary children from throughout the valley sang "I Am a Child of God" in remembrance of the legacy of faith passed down to them by the early settlers of Star Valley.