Footloose: 40 Years Later

Apr 30, 2024
Kevin Bacon Returns to Payson High School / Photo by Melissa Majchrzak

In 1983, filming for the movie Footloose started in Payson, Utah and became a beloved classic, leaving its mark on the community of Payson for the last 40 years.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Footloose, Payson High School students led the #BacontoPayson social media campaign to bring Kevin Bacon back to Utah. Despite the odds, Bacon along with his charity, returned to Payson to celebrate this milestone by building essential resource kits with over 1,000 volunteers as part of the Building Kits by Kevin Bacon (BKxKB) program.

This #BacontoPayson event rallied together some of the best parts of Utah’s film industry: a great filming location, the local film community, and the impact of a made-in-Utah film, Footloose.

Kevin Bacon takes a selfie with volunteers at Payson High School / Photo by Melissa Majchrzak

Filming Location: Payson

The city of Payson and Payson High School, provided the backdrop for many recognizable scenes from Footloose. Though set in small-town Texas, Footloose’s story of a city boy trying to overturn the local minister’s ban on dancing resonated with audiences in the 1980s, and remains a classic made-in-Utah film today. 

Footloose‘s 40th anniversary and the #BacontoPayson event became the perfect addition to the Utah’ Film Commission’s 100 Years of Utah Film & Television celebration highlighting Utah’s rich film history and the small-town charm of the city of Payson.

Kevin Bacon and Chris Penn dance in "Footloose" (1984) / Paramount Pictures
Payson High School football field today
Kevin Bacon dances through the halls of Payson High School in "Footloose" (1984) / Paramount Pictures
Kevin Bacon returns to his locker at Payson High School, 40 years later / Photo by Melissa Majchrzak

This 40th anniversary celebration comes just in time before Payson High School students relocate to a new building, and the old high school is torn down in 2025. However, the town and surrounding area still hold many other iconic locations from the film, including Payson Memorial Park, Lehi Roller Mills, and American Fork Presbyterian Church. Explore more Footloose locations and other Utah film locations on our interactive map.

Lehi Roller Mills in "Footloose" (1984) / Paramount Pictures
American Fork Presbyterian Church in "Footloose" (1984) / Paramount Pictures


The timeless themes in Footloose inspired Payson High students to give back to their community and launch the almost year-long social media campaign, #BacontoPayson. With a desire to give back something of what the movie has given to Payson, the students, with the support of the Utah Film Commission organized over 1,000 volunteers to build essential resource kits for Bacon’s charity,

At the #BacontoPayson event on April 20, 2024 every student had a role. The calculus team calculated how many boxes needed to go to each station. The lacrosse team loaded materials into the truck and finally, the student council gave Kevin an honorary graduation certificate and letterman jacket. 

Kevin Bacon helps pack essential resource kits / Photo by Melissa Majchrzak
Payson student council students award Kevin Bacon an honorary graduation certificate / Photo by Melissa Majchrzak

The Impact of a Made-In-Utah Film

Kevin’s presence in Payson brought new excitement and enthusiasm to a worthy cause. His charity,, focuses on raising awareness and empathy around community causes. 

Together, the City of Payson,, and the Utah Film Commission gathered community volunteers to assemble 5,000 essential resource kits that were distributed to four local charities – Encircle, Centro De La Familia, Spy Hop, and Food and Care Coalition, where they will support and continue to enrich our communities, like the one featured in Footloose.

“[This] event truly showcases what happens when we show up for one another.”  Kevin Bacon