COLUMBIA – In 1995, Chris Bailey traveled to San Francisco when he was 20 to follow his passion for skateboarding. When he wasn't working one of several odd jobs, he was skateboarding down the city’s Seven Hills and holding onto the backs of buses and trolleys for a free ride back up. He also “shredded” at several hot spots for skateboarders in the city.
Spending three summers in the Bay area and three winters serving barbecue at the bottom of the ski slopes at a resort in Lake Tahoe, Bailey saw himself mature.
“It humbled me. Being out there gave me a reality check because there are really good skateboarders out there,” Bailey said.
Bailey carried his experiences back to Columbia, where he was raised and still lives. He and Shane Stander opened the Parkside Skateshop last year. In an effort to give back to Columbia youth and to help maintain their sport’s popularity, the skate shop is hosting the second Summer Shredfest on Saturday evening at Cosmopolitan Park.
"There are no games in skateboarding, and parents don't normally have the chance to come out and watch their kids skate for fun," Stander said. "This tournament is a good way for them to come out and see their kids strut their stuff."
Bailey and Stander said they appreciate having a skate park in Columbia, but they are not satisfied.
"It's frustrating to find spots to hone your craft. The skate park is awesome, but skating the same spot over and over can get monotonous," Bailey said.
To help offer a wider variety of places to skateboard, Bailey and Stander built a 3-foot high half pipe behind their shop. The project took all summer and was recently finished. It will be used for their skate camp for the first time next week.
"I've been in the skate industry for about a decade now, so I'm familiar with it," Bailey said. "Now that I own the skate shop, it's nice to be able to give kids a place to showcase their talents that they've been working so hard on. It helps inspire them to keep skating."
Plans to expand the skating area behind the shop are developing. Bailey wants to add a platform at the top of the half pipe for a disc jockey to host skateboarding parties.
"We have birthday parties, lock-ins, and other fun activities for kids at the shop," Stander said. "We let customers and local skateboarders use the half pipe for this."
Bailey and Stander said they want to expand in more places than the skate shop.
"Having lights at the skate park would be awesome," Bailey said. "They would get kids coming every night to skateboard, keeping them out of trouble. They could put a public web cam out there so parents could monitor their kids online. Plus, skaters could check the park's conditions."
According to Bailey, lights allowing skateboarders to practice at night would eliminate any concerns with the summer heat.
"It's almost too hot to skateboard during the summer," Bailey said. "We try to schedule (tournaments) later on, but even at 5 p.m., it's still really hot."
Summer Shredfest will start at 5 p.m. with a free skate session for beginners. The event will culminate with the advanced-level "King of the Mountain" event for the best single trick, with the winner taking home $200.