Jackalope Shreds It Up in Montreal

Montreal Plays Host to Action-Packed Sports Festival

The Olympic Stadium played host to the 3rd annual Jackalope Festival from July 18th-July 20th Photo Brandon Johnston
The Olympic Stadium played host to the 3rd annual Jackalope Festival from July 18th-July 20th Photo Brandon Johnston

For the third time in as many years, the Olympic Stadium hosted Jackalope, an extreme sports festival open to anyone and everyone.

“It’s a venue which features a lot of different events, so basically anyone who comes can find an event they’re into,” said Jackalope event producer Micah Desforges.

“There’s something for everyone.”

Just outside the Olympic Stadium, extreme sports enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies littered the stadium’s esplanade for the event, which was held from July 18-20. The esplanade was sectioned off for each event that took place during the weekend.

The Jackalope festival plays host to a number of extreme sports events, including skateboarding and longboarding competitions, BMX and motocross competitions, as well as fixed gear cycling, wakeskating and parkour events.

The festival also had a video contest, where contestants put together short films and highlight packs of extreme sports, all for a $3,500 prize.

Desforges has been a heavyweight in the extreme sports world for a while. The event producer has been skateboarding for the past 15 years, in addition to running his own skateboarding company, Ripper Skateboards.

He had always wanted to share his passion and promote the skateboard culture with youth in and around Montreal.

With the connections he made through the company, Desforges saw potential for major brands to connect with youth marketing towards action sports, leading to the inception of the festival in 2012.

Jackalope relies heavily on sponsors because it doesn’t charge an entrance fee to event-goers. A slew of corporate logos could be observed at the event with its main one being Amnesia, a popular skater apparel brand across North America.

However, not to be overlooked, telecommunications hub, Rogers, was also at the forefront of corporate collaborators for this year’s festival.

For the first time in the event’s history, the festival was spread out over three days, in large part due to the overwhelming success it had last year.

“In 2013, it was so crowded and was received with so much positivity that we were like, ‘We have to add an extra day,’” said Desforges.

Upon entering the esplanade, the vibe is relaxed and mellow. Young people are walking around, laughing and drinking, while two DJs spin some soothing tracks to skate to. There are several emcees spread out around the event providing commentary for the competitions.

While the festival does host a variety of extreme sports, not all events are equal in popularity, explained Desforges—for example, skateboarding events are king when it comes to the Jackalope Festival.

“For sure skateboarding will always be up there, there’s nothing to do about it,” said Desforges.

“With this event, we’re trying to bring attention to other sports that are starting to get a lot of attention as well.”

Professional skateboarders from multiple countries including Canada, the United States, Brazil and Japan were part of the festivities, which speaks towards the event reaching an audience beyond its local borders.

The parkour competitions, whose popularity is quickly on the rise with Montreal youth, had an impressive setup with 30 feet-high scaffolds that had no shortage of pipes and bars sticking out for the participants to hang and throw themselves off of.

Parents of some of the younger children that were showing off their skills looked on nervously as their child dangled high above the ground.

The most impressive area on the esplanade was the wakeskating section, located at the water basins of the Olympic Park. Performers competed against each other in two enormous tubs that were 60 feet high containing no less than 200,000 litres of water.

“Events like wakeskating are much smaller just because it’s so hard and so ‘gnarly’ so you can’t expect it to be mainstream,” added Desforges.

Jackalope is currently a Montreal exclusive event but that may quickly change.

“Right now we’re keeping it Montreal, where it started,” said Desforges.

“We have gotten interest from other cities where we do little promo tours but there is definitely a chance that we organize smaller Jackalopes elsewhere in North America and even Europe.”