Surf Festival increases in success


by Cynthia Price

It’s impressive: of all the spots in the Great Lakes basin to surf, Joe Bidawid chose Muskegon’s Pere Marquette for his inaugural Great Lakes Surf Festival last year.

The festival was back this year, and, Bidawid promises, will return again next year.

“Overall we’re just really happy about the turnout and the participation and the support of the local community,” he says.

The Festival saw approximately a 50% increase in attendance compared to 2018, with about 1600-1800 participants. In addition, all of the workshops on various subjects – surfing, paddleboarding, kayaking – were well-attended.

Moreover, people came from all around. At about 6:00 on the day of the festival, Aug. 17, Bidawid and emcee Jason Goorman announced the raffle winners for some wonderful give-aways. People from Wisconsin, Chicago, and even Belgium came up to claim such prizes as a trip to Costa Rica, two surfboards, and kayaks.

“This year our event was really crowded between 12:30 and 4:30,  and then surprisingly for the raffle it really thinned out,” said Bidawid. “I guess it’s a long day for families, and that’s our biggest demographic.”

There were also twice as many vendors as last year.

“Overall our team worked hard. It takes so many volunteers.  So, we’re really proud of what we were able to accomplish this year, and we’re looking forward to doing it all again next year,” Bidawid said.