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Jackalope drew hundreds of athletes, tens of thousands of attendees for first festival in Virginia Beach

Event organizers are sharing the estimated attendance from this weekend, and they're reflecting on a successful first installment at the Oceanfront.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Crews with the Jackalope Festival are busy tearing down the skate park, ramps and bouldering walls on the sand in Virginia Beach, following a busy weekend. 

"The energy was intense," said Micah Desforges, executive producer of the action sports festival. "We are all feeling over the moon by the number of people who showed up - more than 50,000 people over the three days. We had some weather issues, but we made it work." 

Desforges also told 13News Now they estimate 500 athletes from near and far participated during the three-day-long event. It also featured a ton of skateboarding, bouldering and even base jumping off the Hilton hotel.

"That had never been done on such large scale, so that was a first," said Desforges, when discussing base jumping events from this weekend. "It was also the first time since Tony Hawk came back since the 80s."


Jackalope, which has its roots in Montreal, Canada, rolled out its first installment in Virginia Beach this year. It's a new addition and experience, which volunteer Rochelle Kenney said she enjoyed.

"I totally am excited for something new, something diverse for everyone to come out, watch and get involved in. I think it was for all ages," Kenney said. "I said if they need me to come to Canada, I can and help. So, I'm excited. I told them, 'I'm Team Jackalope.'" 

"Lots of people were eager to get out, also business made up for the lost revenue from the couple of weeks. From everyone I talked with, whether it's the vendors, the restaurants, the hotel, everyone made good money and they're all happy," Desforges added. 

D. Nachnani, president of Coastal Edge, agrees with Desforges' sentiment.

"It's just wonderful, because it's helped so many local businesses directly and indirectly," Nachnani said. "To see an amazing amount of people, young and old. I was happy to see families that visited our restaurants and our retail."

Nachnani also mentioned that Coastal Edge held a qualifying skate series leading up to Jackalope and they're going to continue selling merchandise, which were in high demand.

"I do see a halo effect, where it cascades into the week and the weekend. And it's a great way to kick off the summer," Nachnani added. 

Moreover, Desforges said they are determined to keep growing, especially given their three-year deal with city leaders. This year's installment was the first, and organizers are already thinking of the future. 

"The goal is really to build the Super Bowl of action sports. It's only going to grow. We're already planning for next year; bigger, crazier, more people and more action," Desforges said. 

In the meantime, Jackalope organizers are preparing for their next festival in Montreal. It is scheduled for the last weekend of August. 

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