Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lehi, Utah (That's Where I Come From!!!)

Rodeo Grounds in Lehi, Utah 2005

I can't help but feel nostalgic this week. It's Round-Up Week in Lehi, Utah.

 As a kid growing up in a small town this was one of my favorite weeks of the summer. For as long as I can remember until I was 17 every year it went something like this:

Monday - Picnic In The Park
Tuesday - Free Swim at the the outdoor pool
Wednesday - dinner at Wines Park followed by Cowboy Poetry
Thursday - Horse Parade with the 1st night of the Lehi Round-Up Rodeo
Friday - Lehi Miniature Parade followed by the rodeo
Saturday - parade, fair, last night of the rodeo, and then at last the Dirt Dance

All of these grand adventures for the Neel household. 

We loved our town. When I look back now it was a great place to grow up. It was a place where kids were safe and summers meant freedom. We could ride our bikes all the way across town to the swimming pool, stop at the Snow Shack in front of Cash's Western Auto for a Tiger's Blood snow cone,  and make it back home in time for dinner without incident. The only instruction Mom ever gave was, "Be careful crossing State Street." 

Wherever you went, whatever you were involved in, people knew your name, and if they didn't know your name they would ask, "Who are your parents?" After you stated the names of your parents this was usually followed with, "Ah,yes. I know where you belong."  I remember going to the rodeo with Grandpa Black and I thought he was famous because everyone would stop him to say hi and shake his hand. He knew the whole town and they knew him. The community was small and tight-knit.

Looking back I miss the town that put on that celebration, miss the people from that small community. 

I miss...

 eating hamburgers with Dad and Grandpa Neel at the Lehi Cafe. 
jumping off the high dive at the Lehi Swimming Pool (you knew you were brave if you could do that).
swimming at Saratoga (when it was a small resort, not a town).
my Grandma Black's old house where you never knew who was going to stop by for a visit.
grocery shopping with Grandma Joyce at Price Brothers Market.
buying penny candy at the drugstore (the little chocolates shaped like footballs were my favorites).
going to the Broadcaster for french fries (in my young mind only the coolest of the cool went there).
Mom taking us on Sunday drives through the country roads between the ballpark and the river
I could go on and on...

I know, Lehi is alive and well, some might say thriving in it's new identity as modern urban sprawl, but the small town that I grew up is nearly gone, it disappears a little more every year with the deaths of local businesses and good ol' Lehi folks. Earlier this year I heard that Kohler's (the local grocery store that has been around almost my entire life) was selling their building to Gold's Gym. I don't know when or if they will really turn it into a gym, but it's just depressing. When I think about all the times through out my life that I have stopped and visited with a neighbor, a family member, a friend from high school, or an old-timer it makes me sad to think that this place where everyone knew your name and where you belonged will be lost. 

Main Street Lehi, Utah 2005

This week is a reminder of all the things that we have lost in the name of progress and yet when I saw the
plastic flags decorating 500 West by the rodeo grounds I couldn't help feel that same excitement I did as a kid. Round-Up Week is here!!!

To everyone in Lehi, have a great Round-Up!!!

To everyone who grew up in Lehi, Utah remember where you came from and where you belong. This one is for you:


  1. As far as i'm concerned the Lehi Roundup is a national celebration! You know I will be at the horse parade tonigh!

  2. It should be a national celebration. We will show the whole country how it's done!!! I hope you and your family had fun.