VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – It will be hard to ignore the inaugural United States-based Jackalope Festival as daredevils jump from the top of a hotel, motocross bikes fly above the sand and famous skateboarders show their best stuff on a brand new waterfront half-pipe.
Ready or not, it all begins Friday afternoon, June 2, at 31st Street on the beach at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.
Described on its website as a festival that “shines a bright light on action sports,” Jackalope has been held for a decade in Montreal, Canada.
Micah Desforges, the executive producer of the event, said the draw for Virginia Beach as the first U.S. location was the huge skate culture.
“Virginia Beach has a lot of culture in the action sports space and we really want to pay homage to it,” Desforges said.
Last year, with the help of a $90,000 grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation, the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau was able to incentivize the event to set up on the beach on the first weekend of June.
Following the loss of the Patriotic Festival, which long occupied that spot, resort business owners sought something new to draw people in.
So far John Zirkle, president of the Virginia Beach Hotel Association, said it is doing just that.
“We are seeing some pick up for Jackalope,” Zirkle said. “It will be a great event and should get the locals down for a unique experience.”
According to Desforges, it is the first Jackalope Festival in a three-year commitment with the city of Virginia Beach.
For the last few weeks, a several block stretch both north and south of 31st Street has been a flurry of activity, with the construction of a half-pipe, climbing wall and a skatepark on the beach.
The skatepark was custom-designed from California Skateparks and will be open to those who have a pass.
WAVY Digital Desk Host Sarah Goode spoke with Desforges in a Community Chat. They discussed the beginnings of Jackalope, why Virginia Beach is the first U.S. location, athletes competing, what visitors can expect and more. Watch the conversation in the video player below.
Desforges said Jackalope will showcase the talent – past, present and future – of the action sports community, locally and nationally.
Professional skateboarder Tony Hawk is one athlete featured in this weekend’s festival. For Hawk, Virginia Beach has a personal connection, as he won a competition at Mount Trashmore early in his career. Now, he’s back to participate in the Vert Showdown.
Hawk is one of the reasons Desforges said he picked up skateboarding. Growing up surrounded by farmland in Canada, he thought he would be a farmer when he grew up. After watching Hawk’s X Games performance, he took up skateboarding. And, now shares that passion with others.
Jackalope is all about passion according to Desforges. One of the reasons it exists is to “empower men, women, girls, and boys towards action sports.”
He encourages visitors to support all the athletes, from stars to the newer talent.
Visitors can see local talent like Virginia Beach native Collin Graham. He will be featured in the Vert Showdown Saturday night. Desforges says another name to watch is JB2. He’s a young skater, surfer, and snowboarder.
A question he says is what Jackalope is all about is “Who’s the next generation of athletes that are going to be pushing the limits?”
With skateboarding and rock climbing in the next Olympics, it’s a big moment for actions sports. Desforges says we can find local talent, support them, and give them a place to shine.
What can you expect?
The three-day action sports schedule begins Friday, June 2 and continues through Sunday, June 4. Here is the schedule below.
- Friday, June 2 from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
- Saturday, June 3 from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- Sunday, June 4 from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Click here to view specific day schedules for the festival.
Friday, June 2 watch Women’s Best Trick from 6:30 to 7 p.m. and Men’s Best Trick from 7:30 to 8 p.m. Athletes will win money for tricks in this high-energy competition.
The Vert Showdown in on Saturday, June 3 from 8:30 to 9:15 p.m. Watch Tony Hawk and his friends in the showcase. Friends include Mitchie Brusco, Collin Graham, Bucky Lasek, Reese Nelson, Tom Schaar, Elliot Sloan, and more.
Each day the public has access to the new beach skatepark. Tickets are now closed for these open skate sessions.
Watch the high-level competition on the beach. At the DYNO competition on Friday, June 2 watch as athletes jump from one hold to another. Saturday, June 3 will have men and women’s qualifiers. On Sunday, June 4 watch the semi-final and final rounds on the wall.
If weather allows, watch each evening as competitors participate in the Precision Content. They will parachute jump from the top of the Hilton on 31st street to a spot below on the beach.
The event on Friday, June 2 begins at 7 p.m.
Watch as athletes glide on the ocean, like Sydney Pizza and Colton Ettwein. This event involves gliding on shallow water using a board.
Open qualifiers will be on Saturday, June 3 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The semi-finals will take place Sunday, June 4 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. before the finals begin at 12 p.m.
Zach DiPaolo, a young rider from Virginia Beach will perform in these FMX demonstrations. He is known for his innovative style and high-level tricks according to the press release.
The Mid-Atlantic Championship will be held at the festival. A youth clinic will take place Friday, June 2. On Saturday, June 3, there will be round-robin pool play. Sunday, June 4, watch the Championship Bracket, and Championship Match. The final match will take place at 4 p.m.
Each day enjoy DJ sets all day, pop-up shops, after parties, food trucks, and skydiving.
Tandem skydive over Virginia Beach with Skydive Suffolk. Sunday still has slots available. For more information, click here.
Want to go?
Jackalope is is free to attend. Desforges wants the event to be accessible and approachable.
For more information on Jackalope Festival, click here for schedules, event information, and more.