“We’ve been watching Jessica since 2018 and she is phenomenal,” said John Lewis, a member of the Lehi Civic Improvement Association, of Jessica Blair Fowlkes, the specialty act for the Lehi Round-up Rodeo this year.
Jessica Blair Fowlkes is one of the most sought-after performers in the rodeo industry. She has been dazzling audiences for more than a decade with her trick riding. Fowlkes and her beautiful grey horses ride through fire together, thrilling audiences all over the country.
For 85 years the Civic Improvement Association has organized Lehi City’s Round-up celebrations with the rodeo as its centerpiece. Every December, the members and their wives go to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada, to check out acts. After the rodeo, a convention is held where they can meet specialty acts and rodeo clowns in person to see if they are a good fit for the Lehi rodeo.
“Because we’re a smaller rodeo, we have to book the specialty acts about two years in advance,” explained John Lewis. Jessica Blair Fowlkes was scheduled for the 2021 Lehi Round-up Rodeo, but she graciously agreed to put off her performance until 2022 so that the canceled 2020 act could come last year.
The nine voting members of the Civic Improvement Association and their wives fan out and go to as many rodeos as possible to check out the acts and see the talent. “We really are always talking about it,” said Lewis. “We have a text thread going all the time and we meet at least every month. I cherish my association with them.”
“The Lehi Rodeo is a family and we’re very careful about who we get to perform. It has to be a good fit,” Lewis continued. The legendary rodeo clown Lecile Harris used to help find talent as well as being the voice of the Round-up Rodeo. “Lecile was responsible for the fast pace of the rodeo. He liked to keep things moving and keep people entertained.”
Harris passed away in 2020, the year the rodeo and city celebration was canceled. “We know Father Time always wins and we’d need to replace Lecile at some point. We’d been watching Justin Rumford for years before he joined the family last year,” said Lewis. Rumford won over the Lehi Round-up audience with his jokes and mini motorcycle routine in 2021.
“We’re always looking for ways to involve everybody,” said Lewis. “Our wives are especially good at that. They are heavily involved in all the decisions. Everything good about Round-up week is thanks to our wives.”