The Ventura Pier is the new location for this summer’s Surf Rodeo, a Western-themed event that will feature 30 bands, an 80-foot-long beer and wine bar, the world’s largest cornhole competition on the sand, a bikini cowgirl and bikini cowboy contest — and a surfing competition that will bring in surfers from all over the United States.
“It’s a very unique mash-up,” said Danny Marks, one of the event organizers. “We’re expecting our best year yet.”
The Surf Rodeo will take place July 13-14, kicking off both days at 7 a.m. with a surf contest at Surfer’s Point at Seaside Park, just a short trek from the Ventura Pier. Throughout both days, event highlights include a cornhole tournament and Kids Corral, as well as dozens of vendors. In addition to beer and wine, eats for sale will include New York-style deli sandwiches, gourmet tamales and Hawaiian shaved ice.
The goal is for everybody to have a great time, said JD Drury, event founder.
“It’s about celebrating music and friends and community, because sometimes the world can be a little too intense,” Drury said. “We’re not trying to make a statement. There’s no big agenda . . . only to have a really good time on the fun meter.”
The bikini cowboy contest is new this summer, because “the timing is right,” Drury said. “It’s going to be fun, it’s overdue, and it will be hilarious — I can’t wait to see who the winner’s going to be.” With the cowgirls, “we’re not trying to exploit anybody; we want them in cowboy boots and cowboy hats and to enjoy the element of Surf Rodeo. So to bring in the cowboys — it’s going to be an equal billing.”
Also new this year is the location at the Ventura Pier, mostly for safety reasons. Last year’s event was at Pierpont Beach in Ventura, where “the fire marshal said it’s too dense of an area and had their concerns — if any major incidents would have occurred they wouldn’t be able to act accordingly,” Drury explained.
The bar, which will be 200 feet in length, will be big enough for the Ventucky Cloggers to dance on, “and I’m working on getting a Mariachi band on the bar,” Drury said. “We’re also going to do the surf awards on the bar, so it’s going to be an action-packed bar and huge.”
Attendees can also buy raffle tickets to win a convertible 1963 Chevrolet Corvair, with one raffle ticket for $25, or five for $100. “It’s beautiful and super fun to drive,” said Drury, adding that raffle proceeds will benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Ventura. Also, in the name of charity, other event proceeds will benefit nonprofit organizations, including A Walk on Water, which provides surf therapy for children with special needs; and Soul Profit, which is dedicated to providing music, surf and other sports lessons to low-income youth.
For live entertainment, 15 acts will perform on Saturday, and 15 on Sunday, playing ska, rock, punk, country, reggae and more. These musicians include The Expendables, Radkey, Yächtley Crëw, B-Side Players, Highway Starr, Cydeways, Aaron Pax Taylor, Danielle Stacy and Paige Peel.
“We build these really big stages and bring this great presentation with local bands and international bands playing on the same stage,” Drury said.
The Surf Rodeo has been running since 1997 off and on, with a hiatus for a few years in the early 2000s. The event wouldn’t be possible without the volunteers who help out, Drury said, “and I want to thank the community and City of Ventura. Without having cool people at the state parks or at the city we couldn’t do this. There’s a lot of support from those departments that make it so we can do something like this.”
Surf Rodeo takes place July 13-14 at the Ventura Pier, 750 Harbor Blvd., Ventura. Tickets $55-125. For contrest entry fees, tickets, full schedule and more information, visit www.surfrodeo.org.