Building surfboards to invest in community and environment

SURF CITY, N.C. — Every year Surf City hosts Ocean Fest, a music festival with the purpose of raising money and awareness to protect the ocean. 

What You Need To Know

  • Ocean Fest helps nonprofit groups including Oceana, the N.C. Coastal Federation and the Surfrider Foundation
  • The festival has been awarded the highest eco rating by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality and its N.C. GreenTravel initiative
  • In 2022, Ocean Fest won the coveted Rising Star Award as the best new festival in the state and the Best Outreach Program Award for teaching the community ways to better protect the ocean

Cory Sydes is one of the three co-founders of Ocean Fest, and this year he volunteered to build a surfboard to give away to one of the volunteers. 

“We wanted to encourage people to volunteer going forward in the future, so I offered to build a surfboard,” Sydes said. 

Giving back to the volunteers is only a small part of how the founders of Ocean Fest make sure they are investing in the environment and the community. 

“Giving back to the environment, it’s about bringing awareness to eco-friendly establishments, to other eco-friendly nonprofits. It’s really about getting people to a site and then teaching them and making them aware of things that hurt the ocean or hurt the environment and then here’s what we gotta do to fix it,” Sydes said.

Sydes grew up in Eastern North Carolina and has been surfing his entire life, so the ocean is important to him.

“A part of my life that, I mean, I think it’s our duty if … you know how to give back, then you absolutely have to do it,” Sydes said. 

Just like catching the best wave, making a surfboard takes patience, and while waiting for the gloss coat to dry, Sydes reflected on why he started making surfboards. 

“That’s kind of how it works is be just curious about the whole process and then you just gotta do it. Just like everything,” Sydes said.

Mark Anders had a similar curiosity that led him to the idea of Ocean Fest. 

“The ocean’s given me so much in my life. It’s helped me literally have a job, help you have friends … and I wanted to always give something back to it,” Anders said. 

To support Ocean Fest or learn more about its mission, check out the website.

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