Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Even as Lehi goes high-tech, events like Round-Up let the city keep its roots

Lehi's bucking bronc sculpture sits at the center of the Main Street and 500 West roundabout, June 21, 2023.
Curtis Booker
Lehi's bucking bronc sculpture sits at the center of the Main Street and 500 West roundabout, June 21, 2023.

Festivals and parades are all the rage in Utah during the summer.

In Utah County, a nearly century-old Lehi celebration honors the city's heritage while recognizing its ongoing growth and development.

The annual June Round-Up features a week’s worth of activities – including a miniature float parade and a traditional rodeo.

“The Round-Up rodeo that's been the same. It's a three-day event,” said Mayor Mark Johnson. “However, that will change next year. It's turning into a four-day event because our tickets sell out and they sell out very quickly."

The local tradition started in 1937 when the population of Lehi was less than 3,000 people. Johnson said a lot has changed since then. For starters, the census says the city is now home to 84,373 residents and the economy has switched from agriculture to technology.

"Everybody remembers Lehi for its farms,” he said. “You know, a lot of beet farms and wheat dry farms. We had a lot of that with Lehi Roller Mills. Everybody seems to recognize that as an iconic institution here in town because it is."

But the mayor knows that these days the attention is on high technology.

Back in February, Texas Instruments announced plans to spend $11 billion to expand its Lehi manufacturing plant. The city wants to make sure big tech and its historic traditions can complement one another.

"It's the largest economic opportunity that's ever happened in the state of Utah,” Johnson said. “So I've had a number of conversations with them [Texas Instruments] and they are going to participate and become a very good community partner."

While the expansion will add more jobs, the company wants to be more than just another big tech giant in the city.

"TI’s Lehi team is actively engaged in the local Lehi community, volunteering in various community outreach events,” said spokeswoman Ellen Fishpaw. “The company has invested over $900,000 in Lehi-area community and academic initiatives since late 2021."

Lehi also plans to offer high-speed internet by way of its own fiber-optic broadband network. Johnson said the city is working with several service providers, some of which are involved with this year’s celebration through sponsorships.

Striking the right balance of what Lehi was – and what it’s become is extremely important to resident and former Miss Utah Lindsey Larsen.

"Growing up, I was always involved in the miniature float parade. I was either participating in it or through different youth groups or I was just going and watching with my family."

With so much growth, she wants city leaders to make sure older residents and newcomers alike feel included in community-wide events.

"I feel like it's really nice to have the balance of recognizing our heritage and our culture and, you know, where we came from. But then also seeing the progress of where it's going now and what innovative things they're coming up with to continue to bring the community together."

The 2023 Lehi Round-Up runs June 18 - 24.

Curtis Booker is KUER’s growth, wealth and poverty reporter in Central Utah.
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.