The ‘Sound & Skate Festival’ energizes Greenport: photos, video
GREENPORT, NY – The Greenport Skate Park came to life on Saturday with new energy and vision during a “Sound & Skate Festival” to raise funds for ongoing work to repair the skate park and renovate the facility , as well as to redesign the space so that it can grow to meet new needs.
The festival, which drew exuberant crowds to have fun despite the heat and humidity, included skating competitions, 100 vendors and food, live music and a graffiti and mural competition featuring featured 25 artists.
According to Rena Wilhelm, one of the volunteers who worked to organize the efforts and also owner of The Weathered Barn, the skate park was built in 1998. In 2008, a series of annual festival fundraisers began to raise funds. funds to fix the park “because it needed a little TLC,” she said.
These early festivals featured skate competitions, music, a DJ and food, and brought the community together for a day of fun.
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But time and a pandemic have left the park “in serious need of repairs, which poses several structural risks for skaters,” Wilhelm said. “The park was littered and vandalized” and needed an infusion of community love and care, she said.
“One of our local youth, Dane Jensen, asked his mum to reach out to the community in 2019, after seeing some recent graffiti that really upset him. After seeing that appeal, I said :” Let’s try to understand and do this “. ” said Guillaume.
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Wilhelm was overwhelmed by attending the event: “It was amazing and literally brought me to tears,” she said. “To see these kids, parents and friends attend what they call one of the best festivals they’ve ever been to is all I could have hoped for.”
She added, “Everyone was smiling and I got so many hugs. The energy was out of this world. Between the live music, the graffiti artists and the mural artists creating magic right before our eyes.”
The fun also included a dunk tank which was brought to you by Best Life Ever Skateboards.
The heat didn’t deter the fun, she said. “Gotta give it to all the vendors; we endured what I can only describe as ‘near-hell’ temperatures. They were soldiers.”
While Wilhelm had hoped for more attendance, she said she thought the heat was a factor.
“However, the best thing to take from this whole experience is what I would like to call a kind of “revolution”. Our community not only needs this park to be safe and structurally sound, but also opportunities to engage the with each other in creative ways. Our mission has always been to promote not only the sport, but also fashion, music and the entrepreneurial avenues that surround skate culture. Skate culture is incredibly diverse and one of most accepting groups I’ve ever seen. Everybody wants to do is skate and have a good time,” she said.
Wilhelm added: “It’s a culture of ‘come as you are, we welcome you with open arms’ and it has been my privilege to work on behalf of our community. We are a family and it just keeps growing and c This really is a movement we’re creating here where everyone can feel represented.”
Although she had no idea, at first, of the effort it would entail, Wilhelm said she had experience curating vendors for the Maritime Festival and many relationships with local artists given the the nature of his business.
“Reviving the festival into a major event was the best chance to bring the community together and draw attention to the fact that the park needs funds not only to restore it, but also to redesign certain aspects of the parks in order to reflect new trends in skateboarding, quad biking, inline skating, scooters and BMX bikes,” she said.
“It was exclusively a grassroots movement with a small team of volunteers who not only spent hard work, but also their own personal money,” Wilhelm said.
Greenport Village Mayor George Hubbard applauded the ongoing efforts. “I think they’re doing a great job and I can’t wait to see what new devices they have planned,” he said. “It’s great for anyone using the park or just watching the kids have fun and learn more tricks. I wish them all the best of luck and good luck spreading the word about the park – and also raising money for improvements.”
The group organized and created the Greenport Skate Park Inc., a non-profit organization. But, as efforts continue, more help is needed, Wilhelm said.
“There just isn’t enough money in the budget to account for the state of disrepair of the park. It might take us a while, but we’re moving forward, raising awareness and asking for sponsorships and other fundraising options,” she said.
There was one financial sponsor for Saturday’s event, The Greenporter Hotel; Additionally, the group received a “generous” donation of plywood from Riverhead Building Supply that serves as the backdrop for canvases that were painted by 25 wall graffiti artists from Long Island, New York and New Jersey, Wilhelm said.
Earlier this year in May, another fundraiser for the park, “Decked Out,” included a fashion show.
Wilhelm spoke candidly about the challenges the group has faced so far in gaining support for fundraising efforts.
“It can sometimes be disheartening when people don’t see the value of the skate park. Skate parks suffer from a lot of generalizations,” including stereotyping as a place for illicit behavior, she said.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Wilhelm said. “Skateparks allow kids to be outside, socialize, find common ground with other young people. It allows kids to bond with their parents or other adults who are willing to teach and pass on their skills to novice skaters. The skate boarding community is one of the most supportive groups I have had the pleasure of working with.”
To this end, an information kiosk will be set up in the park during the event. Donations can be made by check or @GreenportSkatePark on Venmo.
“It’s also our chance to showcase Greenport for something other than downtown business,” Wilhelm said. “It’s what I call ‘the other’ park and it deserves as much attention as Mitchell Park because of what it offers our own community and others who come from all over just to use the park.”
Personally, Wilhelm said she finds the efforts to rebuild the skate park and cultivate a larger community for skate enthusiasts deeply rewarding.
“As a Greenport business owner and resident, I see the divide between locals and downtown. The local community often feels left out and projects like this often start with a small group of well-meaning individuals. intentions working towards a larger image. We hope the festival grows so that more people not only use the park, but also attract people who will offer to help us achieve our goals.”
Saturday’s event was a celebration not only of skating, but also of street art and the craft community, and how all art plays a part in the skate board community, a place where young people can learn to dream. and create, she said.
She added, “It’s about celebrating all of skate culture to raise awareness of the park’s needs and cultivate greater exposure to the industry for young entrepreneurs.”
Young people have long led efforts to revamp the skate park, dating back to events such as the annual skate park festival in 2014, which attracted many happy children and families, according to SoutholdLOCAL at the time.
At the time, former mayor David Nyce praised the efforts of two skaters, 21-year-old Beau Pollock and Andrew Semon, who worked tirelessly to bring the project to fruition.
To learn more about fundraising efforts to revitalize the park, click here.
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