Youth

Andrew Morris leaned into a ride on the half pipe at the Village Skate Park last week — a vision to whet villagers’ anticipation of the Yellow Springs Skate and Music Festival to be held at the skate park this Friday evening. The fundraiser will feature a skateboard competition and four area youth bands.

Skaters, music at park fundraiser

Festival line-up
The 3rd annual Skate and Music Fest will take place on Friday, Aug. 21, from 5 to 10 p.m., at the Yellow Springs Skate Park in conjunction with the Third Friday Fling. There will be music and skating to benefit the YS Skate Park. A $5 to $10 donation is requested to help keep the skate park safe and updated. Food vendors will be available. The line-up of music and events follows:

5 p.m. The Bum Rush
6 p.m. Yazoo Street Scandal
7 p.m. One Love skate demo, skate contest
8 p.m. The Show
9 p.m. Three Pistol Whips

To many, the Yellow Springs Skate Park probably does not look like much — a few rusty ramps spread out on a small concrete lot wrapped by a few broken fence lines. But for those few who tote their skate boards here all year round, rain or shine, the park is something more. It’s where one can master an “Indy,” when the skater grabs the front of the board in mid-air. It’s also a place to commune with a few friends and relax.

“I like it here,” said 18-year-old Jason Michael Frances, who comes to the park everyday from Clifton, often by bicycle. He makes the trip daily because, he said, “Everybody here skates and they’re all friendly people. It gives me something to do.”

Frances apparently shares that sentiment with many others. On a humid afternoon last week, he was just one of several teenagers hanging around the facility. Some were skateboarders, but others sat huddled around one shady ramp chatting and strumming a guitar.

“Skateboarders just like to visit here. It’s a cool town,” explained Matt Housh, 37, one of the organizers behind the Yellow Springs Skate and Music Festival. The festival, a fundraiser for the park, will be held at the skate park on Aug. 21, from 5 to 10 p.m.

Housh, an elementary school principal in Huber Heights, initiated the event three years ago in collaboration with the Arts Council and the Human Relations Commission because he felt that not only was the park’s equipment being poorly maintained, but the skate boarders were being overlooked as a group.

“I was a skateboarder when I was younger,” said Housh, who started skating when he was 15. “I love skating and I think the skate boarders need some positive events for themselves, for the community to see them in a positive light.”

The event, sponsored by Dayton’s One Love Skate Shop, will feature the bands Three Pistol Whips, Yazoo Street Scandal, The Show and The Bum Rush. A minimum $5 donation is being requested at the door. There will also be a skateboard competition. Entrants are asked to pay $2 for the possibility of winning gear from local skateboarding company, Alien Workshop.

Much of the promotion for the event has been left in the hands of John McDermott, who organized the Gem City Jam in Dayton in April. That event also featured a mixture of skate boarding demonstrations and music. It was Housh’s initial awe of the caliber of athletes and performers brought together for the jam that led him to contact the 20-year-old McDermott.
“I saw Gem City Jam and thought, ‘man, I’d love to play that show,’ and I just started bugging him,” Housh said.

For his part, McDermott, who will begin studying engineering at Columbus State Community College this fall, said that he’s more than happy to bring more music and skate festivals to the area.

“I’ve gone to Bonaroo and several others and I wanted to bring that to Dayton,” he said. “You have these type of events all the time but at a skate park that just doesn’t happen.”

Both are hoping that the festival raises enough to finally begin some of the major improvement projects that the park needs. Housh said, “Everyone was like, ‘build a bowl, build a bowl,’ but something like that would cost like $20k.” He estimates that he collected less than $1,000 from the first two festivals. That money has been placed in the Yellow Springs Skate Park account at the YS Federal Credit Union.

Andrew Morris of Yellow Springs is one of the skaters most interested in seeing some major improvements to the park. For the 19-year-old, the park is an invaluable local resource. He learned to skate there 10 years ago and, like Frances, spends much of his time at the park. He’s been disappointed by what he sees as the village’s poor treatment of the park and its patrons, he said.

“I’d like to see more stuff here, and not stuff that’s going to be taken away by an insurance company,” he said, referring to an incident when several items, including an upholstered couch and metal pipes, were removed from the lot. The action was spurred by a discussion between Village staff and the inspector for the Yellow Springs property/casualty pool who deemed the items to be unsafe

“That is a Village park facility and, just like any other Village park, you just can’t bring in couches. Anything like that, we’re going to remove,” said Village Manager Mark Cundiff.

Nevertheless, Cundiff said that he does hope to speak with the skaters to develop a long-term vision for the park.

“We’ve been trying to get a meeting between the kids and the village,” he said. “I’m sure that will happen eventually.”

That communication is certainly something that Morris is pushing for. He’s already attended some Village Council meetings on behalf of the skaters and plans to continue doing so. Speaking passionately, he said, “I haven’t seen anything happen. I’d like to see something concrete.”

Those interested in volunteering for the third annual Yellow Springs Skate and Musical Festival can contact John McDermott at johnmcdermott188 {at} gmail(.)com.

* The writer is a free-lance journalist for the News.

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