By Katie McFadden
A lot of work goes into keeping an event alive and running for 17 years, but the boys of St. James, Boarders and Into the Whip Records are doing it again, bringing Rockaway’s talents to the forefront with the 17th Annual Rockstock and Barrels this Saturday, June 24.
Rockaway is more than just a beach. It’s full of talented locals on surfboards, skateboards, on stages and artists who create one-of-a-kind crafts, and they’ll all be found in one place on Saturday at Rockstock and Barrels. They’ll all be around Beach 90th Street at this festival organized by Jimmy Dowd of St. James Clothing, the Stathis’ of Boarders and Walker Hornung of Into the Whip Records.
The day kicks off with surf. The Eastern Surfing Association New York District is once again hosting this year’s surf contest. Registration is now closed, but the action starts at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning. The purse is $2,500. For more info, see liveheats.com/ESANewYork
Additionally, Surf For All is bringing in Walk on Water, which will be hosting an expression session for kids with special needs at around 11 a.m. on the surfing beach.
Next up, they’ll be making good use of Rockaway’s new skate park on Beach 90th, starting with a clinic to teach newbies how to use a skateboard. Substance Skate Park will be leading this clinic from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Those who just picked up some skills might not quite be ready for the big skate contest that starts at noon, but seasoned skaters are welcome to enter and show off their skills. There’s a chance for $2,500 in prizes.
This year, there will even be a volleyball clinic on the beach. Riis Park Volleyball Academy will be holding an ice cream volleyball clinic for kids on Beach 90th and all participants receive a Belgian waffle with ice cream. The middle school clinic goes from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and the high school clinic goes from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Contact Alex Moule to register at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 917-566-2809. Entry is $25.
The vendors and music will be on the boards from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Local vendors will be selling goods like t-shirts, candles, soaps, jewelry and more. “The shopping village will be pretty large this year,” Dowd said. Casey Butler of the Rockaway Mermaid Brigade is also hosting a free arts clinic for kids to paint t-shirts and other crafts across from the band stage.
The music is always a big draw for Rockstock and this year, Hornung has curated a musical extravaganza of fresh bands playing a variety of original music. “I like to get new bands. The younger the kids, the better. A lot of these bands don’t get much of a chance to play in venues with their original stuff,” Hornung said. So he’s given them the platform at the mainstage on Beach 90th on Saturday. It all kicks off with Rami 411 at 10 a.m., a singer-songwriter playing with a percussionist. Glen Strange, a teenager debuting his original music, takes the stage at 10:30 a.m. On the ukulele is singer-songwriter Lili Roquelin at 11:15 a.m. Hornung’s own son, John, will be playing with his band, The Set Theory, at noon as they debut their original music. At 1 p.m., Brooklyn-based hard rock band All Due Respect takes the stage. At 2 p.m., Walker will be performing a mostly solo set, but may have some special guests join. At 3 p.m., Samsara is back for their third straight year. No Drama, who played last year, takes the stage at 4 p.m. and Enstrife, featuring local drummer Kevin York, closes out the show at 5 p.m.
But it doesn’t end there. The party continues at the Beach 97th concession at 6 p.m., with a special reunion of Indaculture. “Indaculture has re-formed to play for the first time in years. They were at the original Rockstock and we’re super happy that they’re back together and doing this for us. People are really excited to see the whole band again,” Hornung said. And the fun keeps going. Once the concession closes, the party goes on at Connolly’s with DJ Brother Rich leading a dance party.
Starting in 2006, Rockstock was one of the first initiatives to bring life to the beach and boardwalk before the post-Sandy Rockaway renaissance, paving the way for more fun-filled events to hit the peninsula. “I think that we were kind of the first ones to put something like this together in Rockaway and have had the dedication to keep things going for 17 years. We brought free, original music and offer a springboard for all of these vendors to get their name out there and sell their goods while corporate sponsors give kids prizes for their talents in surf and skateboarding,” founder Jimmy Dowd said. “I think Rockstock has helped breed a lot of other events that have come up through the ranks through the last two decades. I think it motivated people to do more stuff out here, at least that’s how it feels.”
Hornung, Dowd’s cousin, agrees. “I always find it amazing, as we go along, that we started all those years ago here when there was nothing. It was me with my guitar and Jimmy with his skateboard and now it’s a whole experience and I can’t help but feel happy for being a part of things, when we helped establish this area to be a place to have fun and enjoy the arts and activities. There are options for kids now and it’s cool. Jimmy is such a good guy and has done so much for the neighborhood and I’m proud of him.”
Ever humble, Dowd says it’s all about the community. “It’s just the love for the neighborhood. We want to do the right thing and show we’re a local, grassroots brand that brings this here every year to give thanks to the people who have been supporting us all these years,” Dowd said. “It’s really an excuse to bring the neighborhood out and get everyone together at one infamous beach that has been so recognized and has helped Rockaway get exposure, which is the surfing beach. It’s about having all of this local talent to be able to come to one area, and the whole town and surrounding boroughs can come witness it for free. It’s the summer jump-off.”
Rockstock is rain or shine. All activities take place around Beach 90th. For more info, check out rockstocknyc.com