One of the highlights of the summer season in Park City, Utah, is the town's annual Art Festival. Held during the first two weeks of August, the festival features the work of over 200 artists nationwide. The town's seven-block historic Main Street is closed to vehicles and packed with food, art, jewelry and clothing for sale and bands and musicians for fun.
The weekend has become a tradition for retired Exxon executive Graham Baker and his wife Janet to gather past and present Houstonians for dinner and drinks on their expansive deck at in the midst of Park City's rolling hills and hiking paths. When the Bakers first started hosting the party in 2005, 20 people was a robust turn out. In recent years, the party has grown wildly in size with people asking friends of friends to help them nab a coveted invitation.
Part of the reason the party has grown is that Park City itself has become a sought-after second home destination. Many of the Bakers' guests from the early days have now become Park City homeowners. Also some in the original group have departed Texas and are eager to connect with former neighbors and friends. As the saying goes, "you can take the person out of Texas but you can't take Texas out of the person." Indeed, the Bakers moved to Park City full-time last year from The Woodlands, spending additional time in Dana Point, California.
This year's invitation list topped 85 people — about 50 who live or lived in Texas. Guests included executives who once lived in The Woodlands but are East Coast-based, current energy executives and friends from the Houston Symphony, of which Baker was a long time board member.
Guests mingling included Nancy and Bob Peiser, Phil Pace, Sheila and Ron Hulme, Julia and Warren Gregory, Kathie and Scott Amann, Lisa and Richard White, and Kathy Dockry. The Bakers are known for pulling out all the stops for this gathering so no one was surprised to see a huge moose lounging in their backyard while nursing her calf.
The fun and partying continued on Sunday night at Promontory, an affluent planned development six miles west of Park City which has become an enclave for Texans seeking a respite from the heat. Set on 6,500 acres with two golf courses miles of hiking trails, tennis courts, equestrian center and pool, this community is the second home to nearly 50 Texas families.
Says one owner, “life here is slower. We would never drop by a neighbor’s home in Houston without an invite but here it is a way of life." Doors are unlocked, people wave as they drive by and take the time to connect over hiking, golf, and the many winter activities.
Those enjoying the cool temperatures and setting sun included Betsy and Ed Goldstein, Ginni Mithoff, John and Lynda Irvine, Carol and Rob Richardson, Carole and Bruce Bilger, Pam Kutner, John Mann, and Nancy and Ron Ormand,