Q: Why spend so much time volunteering for the rodeo?
A: When Flip went on the committee, we decided it would be our community service. We all loved it. He started doing it … and I said, 'Why are we doing this?' And he said, 'It's our community service.' Flip built this rodeo up from nothing. It was his baby, and we have just loved it.
Q: Do you have a favorite event? Why?
A: Bulls are my least favorite because I've seen a few accidents that have really been bad. But I like all the events. I just like them all. But Flip being a calf roper, I do like to watch the calf roping.
Q: Have you ever considered another kind of volunteer?
A: I do a lot of church service. I do a lot of different things. But I've never, ever thought about giving up the rodeo because we were so involved. It was our money that built the fencing and the rodeo committee welded it and painted it.
Q: Are you surprised all of your children and now some of your grandchildren remain committed to the rodeo?
A: No. I think it's because of Flip. He just built this from the time it was at the Fairgrounds, watching him worry through rain storms, the dust storms and bad crowds. He just built it up until they could move into the Salt Palace in 1970. We were all so excited when it moved to the Salt Palace.
Q: Why is the rodeo such an important part of the Days of '47 celebration?Comment on this story
A: Rodeo is a pioneer event. The last thing I looked at said this was the 95th year of the rodeo. The pioneers were rodeoing all the time because it was their livelihood. I think people should always stay connected to that pioneer heritage because it's their foundation.
Q: What do you think Flip would think of the rodeo today?
A: I think he'd just say carry on. (Laughs) He'd be happy we're still involved and busy, still doing something for the community and making it better. He'd be glad we're making people happy. That was really important to him.
At age 81, Lois Harmon is the longest-serving volunteer with the Days of '47 Rodeo. Her late husband, Flip Harmon, started volunteering with the rodeo in 1961. In 1963, he became a member of the rodeo committee and took over as chairman in 1965. When he took over, the rodeo was struggling for survival at the Utah State Fairgrounds, but through sheer force of will and years of hard work, Flip and Lois Harmon built the Days of '47 Rodeo into one of the marquee events of the Pioneer Days celebration. After Flip's death in June 1997, their only son, Brad Harmon, took over as chairman, a post he held until earlier this year. Lois and all four of her children have served in whatever capacity needed to help make the rodeo a success. In addition to her four children, she has 14 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren.