Ten years ago, a skateboard park opened at the Rockfish Valley Community Center in Afton for the public to use free of charge, and for the past five years Nelson residents have fought to keep it operating.
On July 20, the Rockfish Valley Community Center will continue that fight by hosting the fifth annual “Sk8 Nelson” fundraising event, featuring the “MinPin Skate Jam.” The event has been held every year since the liability insurance premium for the skate park was raised to $4,000 annually.
“We launched the festival with that choice in front of us: raise the money or close the skate park. It became annual festival to help,” Sara Taylor, operations manager at RVCC, said.
Taylor said every year they have met the $4,000 goal and last year exceeded the goal by about $3,000. Taylor said any extra money raised goes toward upkeep and maintenance of the park and leftovers, go to the community center itself. Last year, about $1,000 was left over for RVCC maintenance.
For the past five years, the event has grown and now attracts anywhere between 20 and 50 skaters annually. Taylor said last year, around 400 people gathered at the park to help raise money, and enjoy food and beverages while watching the skateboarders do their tricks.
“Each year there is an increase in positive energy and response from the public,” Taylor said.
This year, the community center hopes to keep that uptick in interest going so the park can remain open and free as usual. According to a news release from Executive Director G. Stuart Mills, this year’s MinPin Skate Jam, an open skating session named in memory of local skater Daniel “MinPin” Rasnake, will run from 4 to 6 p.m. with “Best Trick” competitions from 6 to 8 p.m.
“The SK8 Nelson party has become the largest summertime event at ‘The Rock,’ attracting hundreds of participants and enthusiasts from around the state to the only skate park in Nelson County,” the news release said.
Save SK8 Nelson Committee Chairman Gifford Childs said the skate park is important to the community because it’s one of the only free recreational activities for individuals in the area.
“There are not many other things like it, except maybe basketball. It’s one of those things they can do in the area for free, otherwise they are having to travel to other counties. For locals and visitors it’s a nice thing to have,” Childs said.
Childs said it’s open year round, depending on weather and people are utilizing the park during daylight hours usually every day. Childs guessed that along with the Trager Brothers Coffee Shop, the skate park and half-pipe are the most used part of the community center.
“We want people to know about it and know that it’s a great place for the family,” Childs said.
There is a $5 entry fee for competitors and for individuals attending the rain or shine party. Competitors and children under 12 years old can attend the rain or shine party for free. Four local bands — Shagwuf, The Blndrs, The Falsies and 7th Grade Girl Fight — will provide live music. Local establishments will provide food and beverages during the event.
“There is plenty to enjoy for people who aren’t skating,” Taylor said.
Taylor said one of the best parts about the event is seeing the scope of skaters who come out, ranging in age from young kids to adults and ranging in skill level from those just learning to professionals.
“Each year we have seen the number of attendees increase and increased virality of people sharing the event and encouraging people to come,” Taylor said.
The event this year will be held from 4 to 9 p.m. July 20 at the skate park and half-pipe at RVCC at 190 Rockfish School Lane in Afton.
Erin Conway covers Nelson County for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5524.