SUNSET -- It doesn't look like Utah will have an early spring.
Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., so spring will come soon in Pennsylvania.
But here in Sunset, the cold, sunny day with blue skies ended with a golden sunset over the Great Salt Lake, and the guinea pig Sunset Sam watched as the sun went down in the west, predicting at least six more weeks of winter.
There are few similarities between the groundhog and the guinea pig. Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil looks for his shadow in the morning, and Sunset Sam, a guinea pig, just gazes west into the sunset and if the air is clear enough to see it, there will be more winter.
Standing on a raised platform, decked out in a black top hat, Sunset Mayor Chad Bangerter held the small animal in his arms. Sam had his eyes wide open as the sun set in the western sky, so there will certainly be six more weeks of winter.
People gathered on the west side of City Hall and joined the little brown and white guinea pig as he nestled in a brown blanket and they all snuggled in their coats trying to keep warm in the 14-degree weather.
"This is my first time here. I happen to be married to a firefighter," said Annette Rhoades. "We've had a fun time, and the chili is awesome," she said while holding her young son, Jaxon Rhoades. "He loved the doughnuts and the guinea pig."
Her husband, Ryan Rhoades, said he was there to help set up games.
"This is to encourage families to come out and have fun," he said of the event.
It was the 17th year for a guinea pig to forecast the weather in this small Davis County town. The tradition began when Brent Andrews came up with the idea to cheer up his children after a devastating event in their family. Now the city has taken over the tradition and it has grown into a winter celebration.
Andrews is still very much involved as he is now a city councilman. He said he wanted to use a prairie dog all those years ago to gaze into the sunset, but he found that would be impossible because the prairie dog was an endangered species.
"I decided to use a 'pig' because Phil is a 'hog'," Andrews said.
The event has grown to include a chili cook-off complete with prizes, games such as golf and cup-stacking, and marshmallow roasting over an open fire. An art show was also held inside City Hall.
Annmarie Kelley and her dad, Eric Kelley, were there for the first time. She stood with a marshmallow in each hand next to the fire pit where others had already roasted the marshmallows. She said she loved playing the games and roasting marshmallows, but added, "The best part was getting the doughnuts." Doughnuts and hot chocolate were served in a small, heated tent.
Shelly and Kort Henderson, of Roy, entered a large pot of chili in the cook-off.
"We came up with this (chili recipe) on our own," Shelly Henderson said. "We've been working on it for a year and a half."
Once they heard of the chili cook-off, they wanted to be part of it, even though they live in Roy. They didn't know the event was to be held outside in the cold, though.
"We do chili cook-offs because we like it," Shelly Henderson said.
The cook-off was held in an enclosure next to City Hall. "The enclosure stops the wind," said Andrews.
Chili was served to not only the judges but to anyone who wanted to try some.