For the last six years, and behind the scenes long before that, cousins Walker Hornung and Jimmy Dowd have worked to show that the Ramones were right — it really is “Rock, Rock, Rockaway Beach.”
Thousands of people agree and will flock to the Rockaway Boardwalk on Beach 90th Street on Saturday for the free RockStock and Barrels surf competition and music festival.
“It’s a good, family-friendly, free event,” said Hornung.
As for the creators — Dowd brings the barrel and Hornung brings the rock.
Dowd is a semi-professional skateboarder and shares ownership of Boarders Surf Shop with the Stathis family. He lives within walking distance of the boardwalk skate park and is a staple of the surf community. Hornung calls him the Mayor of Surf, and added he is “very representative of that culture.”
As for the rock, Hornung is a South Queens professional musician whose Soca beat cover of the U2 song “With or Without You” with Caribbean music star Machel Montano helped sell out two shows at Madison Square Garden. His 1990 CDs were No. 1 hits in Trinidad and other Caribbean countries. After the festival he will perform at The Theater at Jones Beach on July 8.
On Saturday a big attraction will be the surfers who will compete for a hefty $3,000 prize sponsored by Nike.
“It’s a real surf contest,” said Hornung, emphasizing that it’s an Eastern Surfing Association-sanctioned competition.
The Manny Mania Skate Competition, sponsored by Red Bull, starts at 11 a.m and for the first time the festival will hold a Stand Up Paddle Board Race, sponsored by H2O Generation.
“The festival gets bigger and bigger each year,” Boarders Surf Shop manager and Dowd’s partner Melanie Reichman said from behind the counter of the boardwalk-located yellow shop on Monday afternoon. Bikini-wearing beachgoers pass by and banana-scented sunscreen wafts through the air. Many of the people who come into the shop are friends who are involved in the festival.
Steve Stathis, whom Dowd partnered with to operate the surf shop dropped in to talk about the festival. Another friend, the father of a musician in the punk-rock, teen girls’ band Toy Sugar, also stopped by to chat while walking his dog. Toy Sugar will perform on Saturday.
“They are dope,” Hornung said. “I was once a 14-year-old in a rock band.”
Hornung describes the festival as hippy meets punk, meets comic convention. The punk and hippy influences are more obvious with the surf and rock culture aspect, but what about the comic convention comparison?
He describes it that way because there will be lots of specialized vendors showing off the latest surf and skate gear as well as lots of great surf and skate athletes. (There will also be jewelry and massage chair booths as well as a few T-shirt vendors.)
“I’m really psyched about it,” said Bethany Scott, who works at Boarders Surf Shop. “We get a really good crowd and it kicks off the summer for the kids.”
In addition to the vendors and the surf competition there will be lots of area musicians. Hornung will be a major presence, playing his hits along with members of the band he previously played with, Q South.
Another front runner on the music stage will be veteran punk band Exit Verona. The group has also rocked out at places like the CBGBs, The Lion’s Den and Acme Underground.
RockStock and Barrels
When: June 23, 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Where: Beach 90th St. and the Boardwalk, Rockaway Beach
Tickets: free, nynjsurf.com