By MICHELLE SCHMIDT
And in his pre-adolescent mind, that seemed like a good idea. So Butler got a skateboard and taught himself to use it.
If his skateboard aspirations began with visions of looking cool while walking the dog, they didn’t end there. Not long after he learned to skate, his parents took him to a skate park. He loved it.
“And 12 years later, I’m still doing it,” Butler said.
Butler is a student at UI, he does math tutoring and graduates in a few weeks with a degree in molecular biology. After that he’ll be leaving Idaho to start the doctor of pharmacy program at University of Colorado. You know, typical skate punk stuff.
“People outside the skate scene see the bad side of things and associate that with all skaters,” Butler said. But the regulars at the skate park are just there to have fun; they’re the ones Bulter sees picking up trash and keeping the park clean.
The Mtn Dew Skate Park in Lewiston draws skaters from the region and beyond. According to Butler, it’s the only good park within a few hours drive in any direction. Butler lives in Moscow, but comes down to skate in Lewiston about once a week, whenever studies and gas money will allow.
He skates at Moscow’s park every chance he gets, though it’s not as good.
“It wasn’t built by people who build skate parks,” said Butler.
That’s a polite way of saying it’s not well designed for the people who actually use it. But his manners run out when he talks about Pullman’s park — that one, he says, isn’t even worth going to.
“Skating’s given me something I feel I’m good at. It’s a huge part of my life,” Butler said. Playing sports was never his thing, though he did skate competitively between the ages of 14-18.
“It’s definitely a way for kids to stay out of trouble,” Butler said. He was never a troublemaker as a kid, but he remembers skating with other kids who had less-than-ideal home lives.
“It was an escape,” he said. Whether it’s these tough situations or the everyday stress of life, skating provides not only a physical and mental outlet, but friendships and a place to belong.
“The skate park gets kids off the streets and gives them a place to go,” said Butler. Skateboards, after all, demand to be used and when a park isn’t available, they end up on sidewalks and handrails, where they’re in the way of pedestrians and businesses.
Skate parks may benefit the community, but building one costs money: The price tag for the one in Lewiston was about a half million dollars. And that’s how Dogwood Days of Spring came about. Mike Kammeyer, event coordinator and owner of 6 Cent Skate Shop in Pullman, has a long-term commitment to help develop quality skate parks in the region.
The event itself is free entertainment. Anyone can come down to watch cool skate tricks and listen to music. But it’s spending money at the event — through a contest entry fee or by buying food or products — that will help pay off the remaining amount owed on Lewiston’s skate park, as well bring in money that can be put towards new skate parks in Pullman, Moscow and Palouse.
The event will feature contests for beginning, intermediate and advanced skaters, as well as best trick contests. Punk-style bands — Random Noise, Astronaut and the Trees, Ghost Alien and The Swellbows — will play throughout the day. Hamburgers and hot dogs, Pepsi products and a Paradise Creek beer garden will be on site for food purchases.
There will also be product giveaways and skate team demos from professional skateboard companies from around the Northwest.
“Skaters of this level don’t come through here very often,” said Kammeyer. It’s an event, he says, that’s a fun, unique opportunity not just for skaters, but for the whole community.
Schmidt can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (208) 305-4578.
if you go
What: Dogwood Days of Spring
When: Noon on Saturday
Where: Mtn Dew Skate Park in Lewiston