By Kami-Leigh Agard
This past Saturday’s 17th Annual Rockstock and Barrels NYC Surf/Skate and Music Festival made living by the beach even sweeter, giving Rockaway locals bragging rights as people came from as far as California and across the pond in Ireland to see the all-day festival.
This year’s event had something for everyone, including surfing and skating competitions with cash purses; Riis Park Volleyball Academy’s ice cream volleyball clinic for kids; a free arts clinic for kids, a mile-long list of vendors, nine epic bands, adding a rocking soundtrack to the event; and nonprofit, Surf For All, brought in Walk on Water, which hosted an expression surf session for kids with special needs. Plus, with the long-awaited reunion of Indaculture’s band members at the after party, who incidentally played the first-ever Rockstock in 2006, this year’s festival was definitely one for Rockaway’s history books. And according to the event’s co-organizer, Jimmy Dowd, though the skies were gray, the man upstairs answered their prayer for no rain.
For 17 years and counting, Rockstock has become a Rockaway staple, signaling summer is finally here, as it celebrates the local culture of surf, skate and music. According to Dowd, this year’s weather was a toss-up as the forecast was rain, a nod to surfers looking forward to good waves. He said, “It was really wild this year with the weather because for two hours it would be sunny and pumping hot, and then all of a sudden, when a heavy hard rock band came on, this mist and eerie Gotham city feeling would roll in and the music would just match the weather. And then when this really super talented girl on ukulele with an angelic voice came on stage, all of a sudden, the sun started piercing through again. It was almost like God was DJ-ing the weather.”
This year’s band lineup was again curated by internationally acclaimed musician and singer, Walker Hornung, who is also a co-founder of the event with Dowd of clothing brand, St. James NYC, and Steve and Christian Stathis of Boarders. For Hornung, this year’s event was extra special as his son, John, performed with his band, The Set Theory. “I’m really proud to see my son up on stage. All of these bands are playing original music, not just covers. They’re young and I just love giving younger people a platform to shine their talents,” Hornung said.
One mom, who came all the way from Babylon, Long Island with her two children, said she’s been coming to Rockstock for over five years. She said, “Every year, we look forward to Rockstock because there are so many activities to take part in. My kids are members of Skudin Surf and compete in surfing meets held by the Eastern Surfing Association (EAS), who is actually hosting today’s surfing competitions. Plus, today was extra special as we got to see the surfing therapy session for special kids hosted by Walk on Water. It was really beautiful.”
Dowd said that he’s beyond happy to see how Rockstock has become synonymous with Rockaway summer. He shared, “We had people flying in from California, Georgia, Florida, and even Ireland, some of whom stayed at Roger’s Pub Hotel. So, Rockstock is beyond local, it’s like a global event at this point. We’re so taken back by the support everybody gives to the event. Also, we couldn’t make this event happen without our sponsors: Skudin Surf, who hosted the surfing competition and Drink Rockaway sponsored the main stage. The skate competition was sponsored by Red Bull, who also provided us with all the umbrellas and tables. We also are grateful for the support of Melissa Carrington of Remax Realty. And last but not least, my co-founders, Walker, Steve and Christian, St. James NYC and Boarders.”
Stay tuned for Rockstock 2024! Visit rockstocknyc.com for more info.