Last week was the 84th anniversary of the Lehi Round-Up Rodeo, the centerpiece of the celebration of all things Lehi during the last full week of June. The Rodeo Committee is staffed with dozens of amazing people, but they couldn’t put on a three-night rodeo without the hundreds of volunteers from all over the city.
“After surviving that first harsh winter here in Lehi, Bishop Evans wanted to celebrate and do something as a town. They had a parade, going around and around inside the fort,” Stan Lewis told the 2021 Round-Up volunteers in a training meeting a week before the celebrations. Today, the money made on concessions finances the parades. “Every dollar we make on rodeo burgers goes back into the parade,” Lewis said.
This year, the Round-Up committee gave LDS wards in Lehi short notice to make mini floats for the Friday night parade because they weren’t certain all the COVID-19 restrictions would be lifted in time. “We are so grateful to be able to celebrate this year. We don’t have to wear masks, do any social distancing. We have a full schedule of events and great family entertainment,” Lewis continued.
For decades, LDS wards in Lehi have volunteered their time working at the Round-Up Rodeo in addition to making mini floats for the parades. During the three nights of the rodeo, volunteers (some who have no interest in rodeos) serve as ushers, parking attendants, clean-up crew, security and concessions. Mike Russon, a member of the Rodeo Concessions Committee, explained, “Running the rodeo with volunteers goes back to the roots of Lehi. We want it to have a hometown feel, to keep our family values in place. We don’t want it to feel like a business, or to have a corporate sponsor dictating to us.”
The bulk of the volunteers work concessions at two shacks on the north and south side of the arena. Each shack needs 50 volunteers for each night of the rodeo. One of the highlights of the Round-Up Rodeo is the Rodeo Burger – between the two concession booths, they make about 10,000 burgers over the course of the three nights. For as long as anyone can remember, Kohler’s has been supplying the meat, buns, lettuce, and the closely guarded Secret Sauce. Only a few have the recipe and Kohler’s even sells the sauce by the pint, but only during Round-Up Week.
For hours before and during the rodeo, volunteers cooked burgers and hot dogs, assembled burgers, make nachos, took orders at the windows, made snow cones, and ran between all the stations making sure supplies were filled. It’s a hot and frantic four-hour race for three nights, but everyone is smiling and customers have an extra measure of patience. The opportunity to work side-by-side with neighbors doesn’t happen very often anymore. “Once we instill the desire to be civic-minded, we get people coming forward a few months later asking how they can help the Rodeo Committee,” said Mike Russon. Those who have been serving on the committee for years love to see others catch the vision.
“Our hope is that everyone enjoys themselves, that everyone who comes to Lehi and comes to the rodeo and parades goes away thinking what a nice place this is. We want them to see that Lehi is just a little bit of heaven for a week,” said Lewis.