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Skate Fest keeps growing in popularity

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Richard Ruby rides the rail during practice for the intermediate division of competition at Parmalee Park.

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LAMBERTVILLE - Skateboard legend Tony Hawk might not have to worry about 12-year-old Trevor Pest knocking him off his pedestal just yet, but if he's smart, he'd keep an eye on the Bedford seventh-grader in years to come.

“I think it was the second run, but every trick I tried worked,” young Trevor said, his cheeks flushed and a large medallion hanging around his neck last week just moments after winning last weekend's beginners division of the second annual Parmalee Park Skate Fest.

“I didn't get much practice before because I hurt my ankle out here about three weeks ago, so I couldn't skate,” the youth said. But practice didn't seem to matter as the youth took first place among 12 contestants in the beginner competition and planted his name squarely on the `skaters to watch' list in coming years.

The three-day Skate Fest has become one of the most popular attractions of the annual Bedford Summerfest festival, said organizer Sharon Throm, who is also director of community education with Bedford Public Schools.

“It's a great thing to watch,” Mrs. Throm said. “The kids are just very enthusiastic and very supportive of one another. And when they sign in, they classify themselves as a beginner, intermediate, or advanced [skater], so they're really competing against kids with the same abilities and not the same age.”

In its inaugural year in 2002, the Skate Fest drew 34 contestants, Mrs. Throm said. This year, there were more than 75 in all three categories that paid the $10 entry fee. Contestants get just 60 seconds to show what they can do on the terrain park, and are judged on both the level of difficulty of each trick and their style in pulling it off.

“It's just so cool to come out here and see parents and grandparents in the stands watching these kids skate,” said Todd Tibbits, of the Francis Family YMCA, which sponsors the Skate Fest competition along with Bedford Public Schools and the township Parks and Recreation Commission.

Young Mr. Pest's mother said her son first picked up a skateboard just two years ago, but has really been concentrating on improving his skills in the last year in preparation for last weekend's Skate Fest.

“Trevor's really into his skateboard. We come over here two or three times a week,” said his mother, Robin Pest. “I suppose now he'll want to come over here five times a week.”

Since the Bedford Township Parks and Recreation Commission first installed the $45,000 skating terrain area in Parmalee Park in 2001, it has blossomed into a favorite spot for skaters of all stripes from across Monroe County and northwest Ohio. On nearly any weekend with sun and without snow, the fenced-in terrain area is packed with skating enthusiasts of all ages looking to test their skills on the ramps, pipes, and rails.

Bedford Township's success with its terrain park has inspired other area municipalities to consider their own facilities, including Monroe and Oregon, Ohio.

Even though he's not from Bedford, skate board enthusiast Robert Peace, 14, of Monroe, also participated in the Skate Fest competition as a beginner, but had a bad day on the board and didn't take home any medals. He still had fun, though, and promised to return the next day to cheer on his cousin, who competed in Saturday's intermediate division.

“I was trying to do some tricks, but it didn't work out,” young Mr. Peace said.

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