MISSOULA - Montana is a state for outdoor sports, and that resonates with the skateboard community.
The Montana Skatepark Association — a non-profit that gives grants to cities across the state who want to build their own concrete skateparks — is hosting a competition this summer to raise money.
Madness in the Mountains is a two-part competition occurring between June 21 and Sept. 4, 2023.
The first piece of the competition is the fundraising aspect.
Participants are encouraged to create a skater profile on the contest's website, where friends, family and fellow community members can donate to specific skaters.
“Everything we raise from this fundraiser, this contest– we like to say it'll turn cash into concrete,” Montana Skatepark Association secretary Andy Kemmis says. “So some places in Montana will get more concrete because of this event.”
Those who raise the most money will be awarded prizes, including a custom trophy, Madness in the Mountains merchandise and up to $1,000 in cash. The second part of the competition involves a skateboard skill scavenger hunt.
Participants will download the app “Goosechase,” search for “Madness in the Mountains” and then enter the code “MITM23.”
The app will have missions for skaters to complete throughout the summer. The tasks range from visiting the skatepark in Wolf Point to doing a kickflip while wearing ski boots.
“We're looking to kind of unite and light a fire under all the skaters, not just in Missoula, or in areas close to us, but all around Montana,” Kemmis says.
The Montana Skatepark Association has been building skateparks for over 20 years, including Mobash Park near Orange Street in Missoula.
They hold fundraisers so they are able to provide grants to cities that wish to add a skatepark to their community.
“Most of the cities see the value in it, and they can at least pledge like a spot of land or maintenance or some way to help get the project rolling,” Montana Skatepark Association president Chris Bacon says.
For Bacon, skateparks can offer a community hub for a variety of different people.
“Skateparks are great for the community basically because they do provide an area for all these kids to kind of get together," he says. “It kind of draws people from all walks of life. We've got grown adults in their 60s that are skating.”
While skating can be a great outdoor sport and keep kids active, Bacon says it’s more than that. For him, skateboarding can teach life lessons.
“As a skateboarder, you basically learn how to get back up again after you fall down,” he says. “And then kind of coming up with some creative ways to do it via your skateboard. Maybe some of that translates into the rest of your life, and you kind of see some different angles. So when life throws you a weird, you know, puddle or something, you figure out a way to get over it or around it, you know, so I think skateboarding really provides a lot of self-confidence.”
Bacon says the skateboard scene in Montana is relatively large in the larger skateboarding scene.
“I kind of think it maybe speaks to what it's like to live here for long enough to call this place here home,” Bacon says. “You sort of realize that, you know, we have a chance out here in Montana to sort of make life how we want it, and it seems like there's a lot of people very like-minded that are just like, ‘hey, let's just make it easy, be nice.’ Nobody tried to make the Montana scene that way. It just is.”
Bacon says each skatepark has a different level of cost, depending on size and space, but most are around $250,00 to $400,000. But Mobash Park cost almost $1 million.