The event, titled, "The Governor's Salute to Robert Redford: A Utah Tribute to an American Icon," was held at the Grand America Hotel Saturday evening.
Governor Gary Herbert and a team of sponsors put on a grand tribute to the American actor, director, producer and environmental advocate. Video clips with trivia notes played out on screens as guests dined and watched clips from Redford's classic movies shot in Utah like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Electric Horseman, Downhill Racer and Jeremiah Johnson.
"For him to be here tonight to pay tribute to Utah and Utah to pay tribute to him is just huge," Ted Wilson, former Salt Lake City Mayor and personal friend of Redford, said.
Three men representing the Native American tribes of Utah kicked off the program with a prayer and a thanks to Redford for his contributions on environmental issues.
Audra McDonald, a five time Tony Award winner, flew in for the event to sing several songs for Redford. A symphony also played songs from Redford's movies shot in Utah.
Redford's contributions to the Beehive state are enormous, from helping to preserve Provo Canyon to the Sundance Institute, which puts on the annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City. The event brings in about 219,000 visitors, supports 8,2000 jobs and pumps about $75 million into Utah's economy each year.
Redford said he is shy and doesn't like to be recognized with accolades. It took Herbert about three years to convince Redford to be honored.
"Robert Redford doesn't lend himself easy to events so for him to take accolades easily is important to him," Wilson said.
Herbert presented Redford with a framed plaque of a belt buckle made by Burns Saddlery in Park City. He also declared Nov. 9 as Robert Redford Day in Utah.
"To honor him in this way is the only thing to do," Marshall Moore, Director of the Utah Film Commission, said.