Burns and The Sundance Kid

Governor Gary Herbert presenting Robert Redford with his one-of-a-kind Burns Custom Buckle--commemorating Robert Redford Day in Utah.
Governor Gary Herbert presenting Robert Redford with his one-of-a-kind Burns Custom Buckle–commemorating Robert Redford Day in Utah.

On November 9, 2013, Burns had the great privilege of participating in “The Governor’s Salute to Robert Redford”, a gala that attracted such dignitaries as Sen. Orrin Hatch, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, and people from Utah’s business and artistic communities.

Several weeks prior to this event, the Governor’s office contacted Burns with the idea to create a one-of-a-kind buckle that captured the essence of Utah and honored Redford, a collector of intricate trophy buckles.  Redford’s Sundance Film Festival and the great crowds that it draws were major factors in establishing Burns Cowboy Shop on Park City’s historic Main Street, right across the street from the Egyptian Theater.  So of course, we were more than honored to join in.

We passed multiple designs back and forth before choosing to use the Governor’s Seal as the centerpiece.  Burns’ skilled craftsmen worked together to create the intricate sterling silver and gold buckle and our master saddle maker hand-tooled the frame for display.  The back of the buckle is personalized with a special message of gratitude for Redford’s work preserving and promoting Utah on several fronts: As owner of the Sundance resort and steward of the land around it, as founder of the Sundance Institute, as head of the Sundance Film Festival that draws thousands of visitors to Utah every year, and for filming some of his best-known movies — including “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “Jeremiah Johnson” and “The Electric Horseman” — in Utah.

Governor Herbert — who declared “Robert Redford Day” in the state — said that while the world knows Robert Redford for his films, Sundance, and his environmental causes, “In Utah, we know him as a neighbor up the street. He’s one of us. … I do believe he feels more at home here than he does in Hollywood.”

Redford returned the compliment to Herbert.  “It takes a governor with a lot of courage to honor a man who’s been burned in effigy, twice,” Redford joked, referring to responses to some of the actor’s environmental campaigning in the ’70s. Redford talked about how he first discovered Utah while driving between Colorado and California. “I saw this citadel of rock that seemed to be embracing the land below it,” he said, referring to Mount Timpanogos and the land that became Sundance. “I thought — and it’s an oft-used phrase — this is the place.”

Redford noted that he and some of the elected officials in the audience, many of them on the opposite end of the political spectrum from him, share common ground.  “Whatever differences may exist, we can all come together and agree on one thing, and that’s our love of this state and our country and the people,” Redford said.

James Redford, the actor’s son, joked about another way Redford’s presence in Utah has brought money to the state: “The speeding tickets.” (Redford is known for his love of fast cars.)  More seriously, James Redford praised his father’s appreciation of Utah. “The love he has for Utah is visceral, it’s primal, and it’s deeply personal,” James Redford said, saying that love has been passed down to Robert Redford’s children and grandchildren. “We all live in different places, but Utah will always be our deep home.”

Burns is honored to say that Robert Redford is now a part of the Burns story and that we are a part of his story.

Portions of this post came from Means, Sean P. “Robert Redford praised for his gifts to Utah”. archive.sltrib.com

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