Episode 016 - Spanish Fork Reading Challenge, Nick Porter and Seth Perrins

On this episode, join us as we dive into the Spanish Fork Reading Challenge. Nick Porter and Seth Perrins share their personal journeys and the profound impact the challenge has had on their lives. Discover how this remarkable challenge is fostering a love for reading in elementary school students, uniting the community, and inspiring personal growth. Don't miss out on these engaging tales of literary exploration and enrichment.

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Podcast Transcript

Taylor McAdams: You're listening to the Kick Your Boots Up Podcast where we swap stories of the West. Whether you're just waking up or getting in for the day, come on in and kick your boots up. Joining us for the Kick Your Boots Up podcast today is an incredible story. And these two people are the Forerunners that kind of help get it all done from this fall all the way from Spanish Fork, Utah. We have two incredible guests. First up, we have Mr. Seth Perrins. He is the Spanish Fork city manager here in Spanish Fork, Utah. And we'll get to hear his story on a little bit of balance being a committee man for several years on their local rodeo, and also being the city manager. Sitting next to him is none other than Nick Porter. He's the public info Officer for the City of Spanish Fork and these two men have an incredible story to tell. You are about to hear it right here on the Kick Your Boots Up podcast. And guys, I am so thankful that you're taking the time to be here. I know. It's rodeo week. So you guys are getting started. You've already had the setup. You know, tell us a little bit about how you guys both got involved in the Spanish Fork?

Seth Perrins: That's an excellent question. And honestly, it's one of the highlights. I think for both of us individually. I'll let Nick speak a little about his experience. But I've been involved with the rodeo since around 2005. And I won't get into the whole story of that because frankly, it's a little embarrassing, but I love being a part of the rodeo and I've been the city manager since 2016. And being a part of the rodeo committee is one of the hats I get to wear as the city manager. And that's a unique opportunity and the unique makeup of our rodeo committee that is connected between what was the founding rodeo committee, that founding riding club, that diamond fork riding club that started this rodeo over 80 years ago. And then the city and so on our committee not only is Am I a part of it as a city manager, but also we have our mayor that sits on the committee and our fairgrounds manager and then our parks and rec director as well. So there's a lot of involvement and a lot of investment that the city's put in to the success of this rodeo. And then we have the expertise of the riding club, the diamond fork riding club. And that is a great marriage between the two of us that has helped over the last certainly last 20 years, but the 80 year history of this rodeo to make it really a success. And frankly, the best rodeo in the state of Utah.

Taylor McAdams:  I couldn't agree more. And I'm sure Nick, I'm sure your story is just as unique. Tell us about it.

Nick Porter: Yeah, so I came to Spanish work just I just hit my three year anniversary last month. And it's been a wild ride. And it's been a lot of fun. So just they told me that I was in charge of teaching 45,000 students all about Spanish Fork and what we do and who we are. And some of the fun things we get to do are the Fiesta days rodeo. So I remember my first rodeo. As an employee, I talked to our rodeo chairman and said, I think I want to go behind the scenes and show the people on our social media a little bit about what the rodeo is things they might not, they won't get to see if they just come and sit in the stands. So I got to stand on right behind. You know, the chutes were no the Broncs and the bulls were I got to go back behind where they were all of the livestock and steer were. And it was eye-opening for me and to teach others and since then I haven't missed a rodeo. I don't plan to they roped me into doing the reading challenge assemblies, which I know is our main topic today. And we'll talk about that. And it's just been a lot of fun being involved in different aspects of the rodeo. But it's really an all hands on deck because it comes to Spanish Fork city. This is one of our main events of the year.

Seth Perrins: So as city employees, we kind of we work through this rodeo season. But really everything that we do really goes on hold right. This week as the rodeo is leading up to the few days before the rodeo and then the next five or six days of rodeo. It's almost like taking a vacation and working at the same time. Because you're not doing your your day job functions, if you will. You're everything that needs to happen to get ready during the day for that performance at night. And then you sleep all night long, hard because you gotta gotta wake up early and do it all over again. So it's really kind of a vacation from the day job. Even though at night, you're still working. So we really enjoy that part of this Fiesta days, rodeo week as well.

Nick Porter: There's no other time where you work as hard or play as hard. That's true.

Taylor McAdams: Oh, well said and you know, most rodeos have a lot of community involvement. But I've got to really commend you guys because there you are serving your city every single day and then turning right around and volunteering your time at the rodeo. That speaks volumes of your character. And you know another thing that we have to cover on this podcast is the Spanish Fork reading challenge. You guys have set a goal for these kids to read and it also teaches them how to overcome challenges and how to stick with things and how to just commit to something for an entire month. So I don't know who wants to start first, but tell us about the Spanish book reading challenge and how it all began.

Seth Perrins: Yeah, so the reading challenge started in 2014. And we were hosting the champions challenge, which was an event that the PRCA held for a handful of years. And that's where this started. And it was a one day one event focus. And we thought it'd be great to pit all of the schools against each other in a friendly competition of reading. And we reached out to Justin boots to see if they could help if you could help him, and maybe giving us some prizes for it. And that was really the brainchild of what we're doing today. And it's certainly still connected to what it was. But it's gotten bigger and even better. As we've shifted from the champions challenge event that it was to just part of the Fiesta days rodeo itself. And what we do is we go to every elementary school in Spanish Fork, and we talk to them, we invite them to read, and we encourage them to read as many minutes as possible. And we have, we do assemblies in each of these schools. And we have 10, nine, 

Nick Porter: Nine this year.

Seth Perrins: nine schools. So that's a long, that's a long couple of days, we visit each of these schools and do these assemblies. But wouldn't you say, Nick, that when we go into those schools and the kids know that it's cowboy day, it's it's the rodeo assembly day they light up, it is their favorite assembly of the entire year,

Nick Porter: I agree that most principals will send out a notification reminding them to wear their their get up to school. And so they all come in with their, you know, hats and boots and, and bandanas that we gave out a couple years ago. And it's really fun to see the energy that the kids bring into the assemblies.

Seth Perrins: So we go in and we do these assemblies, and we give them a we give them a challenge every year to read a lot longer, maybe even just a little bit more, right if you read for 30 minutes a day read for 35 or whatever to make it so you qualify potentially to be the winner. And we've seen every year growth in the minutes read per student across all the schools. And that's I think, for us maybe one of the greatest joys, that we're helping to get kids excited about reading, while we're promoting the Western way of life through these assemblies and, and promoting our own rodeo as well.

Taylor McAdams: And, Nick, I believe you have some stats that you can share with us tell us a little bit about how long these students have been reading what they do and what it equals what is the equivalent to.

Nick Porter: Absolutely. So Seth said we've been increasing each year and last year, minutes per student per day was was a 14 minute average. This year, students got up to 15, over 15 minutes per student per day. So if you add that all up, it's really equivalent to four years. And we like to blow their mind and we say no, you read for for almost 35,000 hours. And I'll ask them how many of you are 35,000 hours old. And they're all stumped. Until we say Well, that's about that's just over four years, how many of you are four or five, and we'll get the kindergarteners to raise their hand. And it's a lot of fun. So this year, the students did 2,076,500 minutes. Our winning school was also our smallest school that averaged 25 and a half minutes per student per day. And so congratulations to Park Elementary. That's that's a great number to see. And but there was some stiff competition. I think the second place school was about 24.7 minutes per student per day. So they're pushing each other. And it's been really fun to see the minutes and hours go up each year per student.

Taylor McAdams: And what a fun and unique way to get the community involved. You're not only encouraging kids to go to the rodeo by dangling a beautiful carrot of some rodeo tickets out their head, but you're encouraging parents to sit down with their kids, you're kind of building something that is way more important than any physical need, which is the connection with their parents. And so I commend you guys there too. Thank you for doing that. I think of my niece throughout this whole time. She's right at that age, and she loves to read but she would love to have it a little a little challenge like that, you know, if I could get the chance to be the best or read faster or better. There's just so many benefits there. So I just gotta I'm asked, I'm genuinely curious about you both. What does it mean to you to be a part of something that's way bigger than yourself and way bigger than the community as well.

Seth Perrins: You know, when you do these assemblies that we put on and different members of our committee of course, there's there's a number of great, great men that are part of our committee and great participants in what we do. If you are if you're having a bad day, go do one of these assemblies. As you walk into that school and the kids see you there. You are a rock star. And if it's if you have a long week and you You're tired or whatever, you go into the school and you're just picked up and they just love you, and praise you, if you will. And it's, it becomes really easy. And then all you need to do is talk about what a rodeo is, and the different events that we have. And we usually have a little bit of fun, I always feel bad for the school because the principals and the teachers are always trying to have their kids be behaved, right? Quiet sit still that kind of an environment in an assembly and we come in there and just blow the roof off and got them yelling and screaming, and we'll play different games, we'll, we'll do a quick tie or a quick lassoing activity, or we might do a barrel racing activity, and depending on the year, and when you're done, you are not having a bad day, if you had one going in. And so really for us, it might have been given as an assignment. But having done it once and done it multiple times. Now, it's one that I quickly raised my hand for and say, Can I do it? Because it's it's very gratifying.

Nick Porter: Yeah, through various circumstances, I was kind of the bench player that got put in the starting lineup this year. And I don't know if I kept that spot, but I sure hope so because it was a blast. And I think for me, I actually have a seven-year-old and this was his second assembly. So kindergarten last year in first grade this year. And he loves it, and his friends love the rodeo and he loves to mutton bustin. He know he keeps growing out of the boots and I keep buying them new ones and but it's a lot of fun just to see new rodeo fans that want to come to the rodeo every year. They want to bring their families, we tell them all the all of what the events are at the rodeo so that they can teach their parents and friends and families when they come. And they really enjoy knowing what's happening on the road at the rodeo when they're with other people.

Taylor McAdams: And the timing of it all. This gives them plenty of time to learn those skills and get ready for the rodeo even better. But one thing that I want to talk about a little bit is might invest in you mentioned your son loves mutton bustin, we at Justin boots are huge fans of Mutton Busting. That's why we put them on all across the US. And I just I'm so curious to hear your your perspective on the importance of Mutton Bustin there and what you think it does to shape the future of rodeo.

Nick Porter: I think it's a chance for these kids to get involved and see how much fun it is performing in front of, you know, 1000s of people. And we've had 72 consecutives. Don't trust Seth that they should go backwards and put their legs around the neck, the sheep's neck. The first year, my son didn't want to do that he wanted to go forwards and he saw bigging a big score increase when he flipped around the next year. So just giving them a chance to perform and be a part of this great sporting event, I think is something that's really beneficial.

Taylor McAdams: I think really, it really is and sorry to cut you off there, Seth. But going back to kind of the prizes in the awards. You guys offer a plethora of things. I know the school, the winning school gets a trophy talk us through all the different prizes because it's a lot the cowboys and cowgirls out there get to be dressed from head to toe.

Seth Perrins: Yeah, this is one of the I think special parts of the story. And quite frankly, one of the reasons why we were excited to, to join you on the podcast today to really express our gratitude as a rodeo committee. And as a community for the involvement of Justin. I mentioned back in 2014, we started this program. And it was through the generosity of Justin and the work of Tom Feller, who said, stepped up and said we would love to participate. And let's give you let us give you the boots that you you want. And so we developed the program two winners per school. And since then I think we've added one or two schools. So that number keeps growing as our community grows. But we started by giving a pair of boots to two students in each school. And about four or five years later, we were getting ready to go take the students into the arena like we will here tonight. And the the all the cowboys these little cowboys and little cow girls were in the room where we start. And Tom was there and other representatives from other of our national sponsors were there. And Tom, unbeknownst to us, just with the relationships that he has, and the connections within the rodeo world with his friends and counterparts at at Wrangler and Resistol started talking to them. And he pointed out look at these kids look at the smiles on their faces as they walked in here sporting these new Justin boots. And he put the idea into their minds that wouldn't it be great if they didn't just have Justin boots but if they also had Wrangler Jeans and maybe a Resistol hat and the next year, we had Wrangler and Resistol join in. And as you mentioned And now we outfit these cowboys and cowgirl winners from head to toe with a pair of boots, a pair of jeans and a Resitol hat. A couple of years ago, we had a local store jump in and provide a rodeo t-shirt as well. So they walk out fully, fully dressed, and just look fantastic in there Fiesta Days clothes. They're Justin boots and Wrangler Jeans and it was just all hat. So it's pretty neat to see these kids and the only downside to everything that we do is because of their ages like like Nick mentioned a moment ago. Most of them have grown out of the boots and the jeans by the time we get to the rodeo next year so so I guess that is encouragement for them to keep reading trying to win again and and try to get a new pair right because that's the downside I guess right? They they might outgrow them within a year.

Taylor McAdams: And who knows they might even outgrow them from the time they won in April to the time the rodeo 

Nick Porter: Yeah, that's true. I think another the other fun thing the other prize is tickets to the rodeo so they all come one night of the rodeo it's the only night we don't do Mutton Busting pre show because we we march these students out and and give them the recognition they deserve. But did you think about the themes of our of our rodeo Patriot night tough enough to our pink night. And then our rodeo Reading Challenge winners that's hopefully shows how important reading is. And in this partnership that we have that that it's a big deal to read in Spanish Fork we want to create, yes, new rodeo fans Yes, cowgirls, and cowboys and onto our heritage. But we also want to have avid readers in our community.

Taylor McAdams: And without a doubt you guys are doing an incredible job to shape the future. I couldn't be more thankful to be a part of hearing your story even that makes me want to get involved in help anyway I can so keep doing what you're doing. That's so encouraging. I hope to make it out to Spanish Fork one day. Unfortunately, that's one of the rodeos I have never hit on the rodeo trail, but I see it in the future happening. I know you guys have a lot of big things coming up this week. And speaking about that, let's kind of move on into the history of the Spanish Fork Fiesta Days rodeo, it's more than just a rodeo. There's the Fiesta Daysyou have a lot going on. So kind of give us the rundown rundown on that. 

Seth Perrins:  is our city's celebration. Most communities in the United States have what you might call a celebration weekend of summer, right? Sometimes it's around a birthday celebration of the community. But this is our our city the name Spanish Fork, and Fiesta days course plays hand in love. And it's it's a party around town. And through the years our Fiesta Day celebration has evolved into a homecoming. And our community has a rich heritage of its residents. And they come from wherever they live back home. And so we see 10s of 1000s of family members come home and our parade is watched by by 50,000 75,000 plus and and there's lots of family reunions and different family gatherings associated with it. So it's a great homecoming in the month of July, and ours is surrounding our state holiday that lands on the 24th of July. So there's stuff everywhere, all across town. And then of course, nightly the rodeo is kind of a capstone event each, each and every night. When we sell out, As Nick said, 72 performances, I think we're I think we're going on almost 15 straight years selling out every performance.

Nick Porter: And this week, this week is no exception. Yeah, yeah. Oh, not at all. So we haven't had the performances yet. But I think in the next five days, we'll go from 72 to 77. That's right.

Taylor McAdams: Yes. And you have a good thing going for you there. I think that's what's the most important thing and it's so incredible. But I want to talk a little bit more about the 81st annual Fiesta days rodeo presented by Mountain View hospital. We got to get that plug. Tell us about every everything that we can expect at the rodeo. I know you have the regular events, but anything fun, anything we should look out for.

Nick Porter: But I think there's so much. So a couple of highlights that I'll hit on and Seth has a few as well. But again, Frontier rodeo our stock contractor, the PRCA stock contractor of the year for the last few years, is the fiesta de stock contractor. And we're so grateful to have really the best the best livestock and the best, that side of each event being provided by them. A rodeo clown JJ Harrison is back. Popular. He's been in Spanish for many years. And we're excited to have him back again this year. And just five nights of fantastic rodeo. We'll kick off things Wednesday, the 19th, with our Patriot night, and then reading challenge winners tough enough to wear pink night extreme bowls. And it'll all finish up championship night on July 24.

Seth Perrins: And, you know it's got the feeling of an NFR When you come into our event, because the stands are really enclosed, until you've got to come, you have got to get this on your list. And this definitely isn't like a bucket list later in life, you got to come soon bring your niece. But when you get into the arena, it's it's enclosed on all sides, and 8,500 fans and they're loud. And when a great win a great ride happens when you get a fast time. And all of those, just the energy inside of that arena is really intense. And what's special about our event is we've got rodeo fans of all ages, and they stay through the whole night. And they they energy feeds off of itself. So you've got 80-year-olds that are cheering loudly sitting next to that, maybe their great-grandchildren. That's eight years old, and they're cheering loudly, and all the while, they're talking about who their favorite cowboy was and our fastest time, and so the energy inside that arena really is special. And like I said, it feels like the NFR because if you're in Vegas, that arena is closed and it's sold out as well. And you see just those best time. So it's really one of the best rodeos outside of Vegas, certainly this time of year.

Taylor McAdams: And you guys have beautiful scenery, too, I must add. So that's that's a beautiful part of it too. And kind of piggybacking off of you, Nick, along with a good stock contractor comes good stock. And with good stock comes, good rodeo competitors. And there's no doubt that there's going to be a lot of good competitors this week. The lineup is phenomenal. But what's it like for you guys being the locals having people come from all across the United States to compete in the rodeo as part of their job, you know, it's an important part of their earnings, but they add it they add Spanish Fork to their list as one that they have to go to and want to go to.

Nick Porter: We love having a big draw throughout the country and this Fiesta days rodeo is actually one of three rodeos just in Utah that same weekend. So we play off of Ogden’s rodeo that pioneered the days of 47 rodeo in Salt Lake. And so it's a chance for for these cowboys and cowgirls to compete in our rodeo but also it will play off the other rodeos as well. And we think that that because of that, we're able to have a fantastic rodeo because they're able to come out and perform in three different events or three different rodeos over the same week.

Seth Perrins: And I think as a community, we love to see the swell that happens with all these cowboys over 700 cowboys and cowgirls come into the community over the course of these five days. A lot of trucks and trailers, right and a lot of action. And if you go to any of the restaurants in town or any of the stores on Main Street or around town, you'll see a bunch of these cowboys and cowgirls and, and I think our fans, our community welcomes them in as if they were family. And we almost can't tell you know who the Cowboys are because everybody's part and parcel of what they're doing dressed up in their rodeo gear. And the whole community just embraces it because we it is a part of really the fabric of of Spanish Fork now.

Taylor McAdams: Yes, you guys I can tell by just talking to you that you are a family even though you work together every day. It just shows that your community is full of love and full of fun activities. And this summer is no exception as well. So I cannot speak more praises about you guys. And especially the reading challenge that is quite an incredible thing you guys have goin we are proud to support it we will support it forever and ever as long as we can. And we just want to say thank you for everything that you're doing and and thank you guys both for taking the time in this busy week with everything you have going on to just talk to us a little bit about all things Spanish Fork Fiesta Days and  the Reading Challenge and your city itself. So I wish you the best down the rodeo road and we'll stay in touch.

Seth Perrins: We know it is a busy week. And but there really is nothing more important, I think for us at this moment to take this time and say thank you to you your supportive Spanish work to yesterday's reading challenge and our rodeo. We really are grateful for Justin Boots the role that you have played in the success of our rodeo, and in the success of this reading program. And so at this moment, nothing more important than saying thank you to you.

Taylor McAdams: Well, thank you guys, we appreciate it. Thanks for joining us on kick your boots up. I'm your host Taylor McAdams and we can't wait to share the next story of the West. Until then, feel free to like subscribe and leave us a review. Follow us on social media at Justin Boots to keep up with our next episode. And we'll see you the next time you kick your boots up.