Thrills for island skaters
The event was the brainchild of teen coordinator Melissa Minto, Robb Roach of Kettlebottom Outfitters and Jason Hamel of Hamel Graphics.
The trio's talents and contacts complemented each other in pulling together the daylong event, which drew a total of 275 people, with some staying for the entire day.
"Melissa mentioned to me that she would like to do something with the skateboarders. I had dreamed of doing something like the Skatefest and the idea took off from there," Roach said.
"A lot of the teens that were coming into the teen center would come with skateboards, so I thought doing something for them would be great," Minto said. "I called Jason and asked him for some suggestions and he said he knew Donny Barley and the person who owned the Trickstars BMX stunt team and offered to contact them for us."
Barley is a professional skateboarder with the Zoo York team and has been Hamel's friend for 15 years. Josh Kirtland, owner of the BMX team, lives in Portsmouth and was happy to lend support to the local event.
The Trickstars staged three performances throughout the day, and Barley put on a demonstration and signed autographs for the crowd.
Roach also had his TV camera crew on hand to tape the event for a future airing on his show, Kettlebottom Outdoor Pursuits.
Rep. Bruce Long not only donated his Del's Lemonade truck for the event, but he also gave the proceeds from the sales to the teen center.
Skateboards and bikes were not the only thing flying high at the park. Free gear and product giveaways were also known to make spontaneous airborne trips into the crowd.
Islander Brian Cotsonas, a representative for Smith Optics, donated sunglasses and other paraphernalia.
"I live on this island and it was great to be able to give something back to the community that supported this," he said.
Roach said that other sponsors were equally as generous.
"Paul Danchak from Volcom gave a ton of gear and Zoo York gave away skateboards and decks," he said.
The purpose for the fest was two-fold according to Roach, who saw the day as a great opportunity to educate both the skateboarders and the public on each others needs.
"We took the time during the day to really explain to the kids that this is their park, and they should take care of it, feel ownership for it. We encouraged them to police themselves and really got out the no drugs, no drinking, no graffiti message," Roach said. "It was a very positive message."
Sixth-grade teacher Beth Weibust was instrumental in getting the skatepark built and she was encouraged by the number of spectators who now see the positive side of the sport.
"I think sometimes people have a hard time seeing it as a sport, but it really is. It really gives kids who may not fit the team sport mold an opportunity to excel at an individual sport, to give them a sense of accomplishment," she said.
All of the parties involved with the day declared it a big success and are already making plans for next year.