Big surprises at Sk8Fest
Sk8Fest – which runs this Saturday, Aug. 12 at the Glengarry Sports Palace – is the one day of the year when the gap between generations of skaters is bridged by transforming the hockey rink into a full-feature indoor skatepark with over 40 ramps—including rails, half and quarter pipes, grind boxes, a wicked eight-foot vert ramp, and this year, big new surprises.
The event features 10 top-drawer bands from Ottawa, Montreal, Waterloo-Kitchener, Gatineau, Hawkesbury and Alexandria who will take to the festival’s stage while local company AdLiBb looks after the sound.
Doors open at 11 a.m. and that’s when you’ll see scores of helmeted boarders eyeing this year’s set-up of super-sweet obstacles including a new ten-and-a-half-foot double-barrel shotgun rail.
Alexandria Skate Team volunteer Justin Sauvé and his crew have built a mini version of the Glengarry District High School double set stairs, the type of street obstacles skaters used before Alexandria Skatepark was built in 2006.
“We also built more run-up platforms so there are 24 feet of flat top before you hop down the set,“says Mr. Sauvé. “Lots of room to place your feet and get ready. The double set is fully interchangeable and so you can choose between a hubba or a rail session down it.”
Alexandria Skate Team volunteers like Mr. Sauvé and other members of the original activist group who lobbied for the first phase of Alexandria Skatepark will be there to watch young ones wobbling on their mini-boards, run contests for best tricks, and keep an eagle eye out for safety hazards, like improper head protection.
The original Alexandria Skate Team members are guys in their 20s now, and while they all still skate, they’re also into cars. That’s why this year’s event also features a Show ’N Shine car show, a new car club for younger car enthusiasts organized by Low Expectations. There is no entry fee for the car show and there will be prizes for best in class in domestic, import, classic, truck and bike.
Bring your drive and show it off in the Glengarry Sports Palace parking lot from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sk8Fest, now in its 14th year, doubles as a fundraiser for the second phase of the skate park at the southeast end of Island Park in Alexandria. In 2004, the Alexandria Recreation Association approached Natalie St- Denis, now a special senior assistant for the Prime Minister’s Office, who agreed to be the Alexandria Skate Team spokesperson and head the volunteer team to raise funds, coordinate and oversee the construction of the concrete park.
Ms. St-Denis received backing from local service groups -- the Lions, the Optimists, and the Richelieu clubs -- as well as from businesses and private individuals.
Five-plus years in the making, the park opened to fanfare in July of 2008.
Then-Alexandria mayor Grant Crack, now MPP for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, helped secure funding to make the $100,000 skate project in Alexandria a reality with the promise that two more phases were in store.
“An estimate for the second phase would probably come in at about $150,000 and that is way before in-kind funding,” says Alain Lauzon, volunteer organizer of Sk8Fest and owner of AdLiBb music store. “We could cut costs everywhere, including using Justin Sauvé, a certified heavy equipment operator, to operate the Township’s highhoe excavator for free.
“If the municipality would actually put the next phase into play, that’s when we could start approaching local sponsors.”
Mr. Lauzon points out that the skate park has been relatively cheap for the township to maintain.
“There have been almost zero maintenance costs -- not a single crack after nine years,” he says. “Find me a skatepark in Canada this old that is this clean with no graffiti. It’s next to impossible.”
Sk8Fest is looking for volunteers. High school students looking to collect volunteer hours and anyone who would like to help set up the ramps can show up at 9 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 11, outside AdLiBb Music (the former Raage Skateshop) at 57 Kenyon St. W., in Alexandria. For more information, visit www. skatefest. com or visit Sk8Fest on Facebook.
Admission to Sk8Fest is $5, or $10 if you wish to skate.
READY TO ROLL: Justin Sauvé, left, Sk8Fest’s promotions head and one of the founding members of Alexandria Skate Team that lobbied for the first phase of Alexandria Skatepark, Alain Lauzon, organizer of Sk8Fest, and Sk8fest volunteer Josh Boisvenue sit...