Skatepark sticks landing with new event


PORTSMOUTH- All hands were on deck for benefactors of the Portsmouth Skatepark last week as they pulled together volunteers and resources for the first Portsmouth Skatepark Jam that took place over the weekend to welcome casuals and thrashers to the park, celebrating the culture of the skating community and raising money for future upgrades.

The event featured a long list of musical talent, vendors, games and prizes, and more. The event was planned to get people more involved in the park while also raising funding for future improvements.

The concert featured the talents of Nearly Mind, The Fliplighters, ALLT, Rockwell’s Ghost, and Skintt. The music ran from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There were also vendors onsite, including The Landing, Fizzy’s, Kristin’s Corner, Texas Peach Grill, Flatboy Q, Flockdining, and Squeeze the Day Lemonade.

“The goal of this whole thing is to spark some awareness about the park,” co-organizer Noah Fannin said. “I talk to a lot of people, mainly youth, because I’m a teacher, and they don’t even know we have a skatepark. So, that’s part of this whole thing.”

One of the judges for the trick competition could not make it to the event and Fannin said he had to step up. While he was concerned for his friend, he said being an interim judge was exciting.

“Announcing all the events, such as best trick in the bowl, I was on microphone yelling out time notices. It was like a bigtime skate event and a lot of fun,” Fannin said. “Especially with the crowd we had. We had been promoting it for quite a while, but I had no idea how many people would show up. It was exciting to see so many people.”

Fannin claimed that they were all shocked to see hundreds of guests show up to celebrate with them. He also believes that not only local people turned out, but fans of the bands also travelled to Portsmouth to participate, bringing in people from Huntington and Charleston and beyond.

Fannin is organizing the event alongside friend Dr. Lemons

According to Fannin, the desired improvements include shade structures, timed lights, and new park equipment. While they have a lead on a partner with funding for shade structures through Community Action Organization of Scioto County, the rest is up to the skaters.

“Right now, there’s just a streetlight that doesn’t do much, but we also would like to invest more in the expansion of more attractions,” Fannin said.

To the surprise of many, the City of Portsmouth managed to show progress onsite just a day before the event, installing one major sunshade structure with promises of another coming soon.

“I love the shade structure. In person, it is so much bigger than it looks in photos. It is a 20 by 20 structure. The way they put it in, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., you have shade covering the picnic area,” Fannin said. “We have two of them to install and the city has our second one ready to install. It was a game changer for us, though, because the skaters always burn up and now we had a place to rest and get water.”

Fannin explained that, while they were taking donations from guests, the intention was to showcase the park and expose new people to the hobby. So, they didn’t require admission or push very hard on the matter. Despite this, they still managed to raise up to four figures.

“We took in $800 in cash directly and we also had anonymous, sealed envelopes to deliver to the Scioto Foundation, so we know we raised over $1,000 for future development,” Fannin explained.

Fannin had a lot to say in recent weeks about the park being a massive benefit to the city, but especially downtown, where the park renovated a previously underutilized space. As a teacher, Fannin also sees benefits in the park outside of community development.

“If these kids aren’t playing sports, they aren’t really active or have hobbies to get them moving,” Fannin said of the park’s benefits. “You can skate at the park, ride scooters, bikes; pretty much anything that has wheels can be had fun on.”

Overall Fannin and volunteers said they were very pleased with the turnout at the event and they’re looking forward to future events, future development, and continued skating.

“I personally think this is gonna be pretty big for us,” Fannin claimed. “Everyone I talked to said they had to park near Valley Wholesale Foods, with cars parked everywhere, which is exciting to me, because that corner of town doesn’t see a lot of traffic coming through. A lot of the kids said they had never been there before and couldn’t wait to come back. I spoke with guys who have gone to a lot of these, and they frequently said they have gone to events like this, but way better funded and we still did a better job. I think a lot of it has to do with the park, because not everyone has a bowl, and we have a massive one. It isn’t super advanced, and anyone can learn on it, with it being accessible, but it is still nice and we’re only thinking about more improvements in the future.”

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