Great Lakes Surf Festival

Beginner Lessons at a Bargain Price

by Ann Smith

Want to give surfing or paddle-boarding a whirl? August 12 is an easy day to dip your toe in the water. 

Accomplished surfers and boarders will show beginners the ropes at Pere Marquette Park in Muskegon as one event in the annual Great Lakes Surf Festival.  

“We love sharing and teaching people safely,” says Joe Bidawid, who founded and directs the festival. “Lots of families learn to surf together.” Typically, 120 to 180 people participate in group lessons while experienced “boardheads” browse the 50+ vendors. The dry event includes yoga, a surf rock band called The Tentacles, and an auction of 4-foot surfboards embellished with art by fifty local and regional businesses. Auction proceeds
go to lighthouse restoration.

“Imagine a late summer day on an amazing beach, doing what you love and surrounded by so many like-minded people from all over the Great Lakes who share the same passion. That’s our goal,” Bidawid says.
Advanced surfers from Hawaii, Alaska, Florida and from other countries have attended, too.

Group surfing lessons for beginners start with 25 minutes of instruction on land, and then 15 minutes in the water. The festival provides the board. The same model applies to shorter paddleboarding lessons. BYO flotation device. If Lake Michigan’s too calm, Tommy’s Boats of Comstock Park will generate waves with boats. 

Register for lessons on the website. As the event approaches, updates will appear on the festival’s Facebook and Instagram pages. If bad weather is in the forecast for August 13, the festival may take place the night before or the morning after. See the website for admission and lesson prices; family passes are available.

Great Lakes Surf Festival
August 12, 12:30-6 p.m.
Pere Marquette Beach, Muskegon