HARVARD -- Music blasted from outside the Harvard General Store as 18-year-old Eddie Henriquez took to the edge of the mini-ramp set up in the parking lot.
Rolling back and forth on the ramp, he eventually pulled an impressive trick as he kicked his longboard in the air, keeping balance with one hand on the ramp edge. The crowd cheered.
It was the first day of the fifth annual Central Massachusetts Longboard Festival in Harvard, which attracted about 400 participants from all over the country last weekend.
Harvard's hills are the main attraction for these longboarders, who stayed at a nearby hotel while they competed for cash prizes.
On Friday, contestants warmed up on the mini ramp set up in the center of town, attracting a crowd of spectators and a general buzz of excitement.
Seventeen-year-old Cape Cod natives Mike Dietrick, Jacob Chagnon and Mike Mondello sat on the ground watching fellow riders on the mini ramp.
The group has been longboarding for about two years.
"I love going fast," Mondello said. "Always have, on anything. I just stepped on his board for the first time and went down a hill and I was like, 'This is for me.'"
Dietrick said he used to flat-land street-skate but was horrible at it. When Mondello started sliding on a longboard, he tried it.
"It turned out it's way less frustrating and it's way easier to push yourself while knowing your limits," he said.
For Rachael Martin, 19, Saturday was her very first race. Her boyfriend got her into the sport, and she said everyone she meets is a new friend.
"All the girls that are in it are just really awesome," she said. "It's such a different sport for girls to get involved in, and any time there's any other girl skater at any event you just get really into it and really excited."
Mike Girard, organizer of the event, has had to balance an increasingly popular competition with the town's wishes over the years.
"We have a lot of abutters, a lot of residents to worry about and it's a pretty mellow, quiet town so it doesn't necessarily jive well with skateboarding, but it's worked pretty well," he said.
Ben DeSnyder, from Holliston, said he has been in the competition since it began as a really small event.
"If we were going to have a big event out here, I wouldn't have anyone from the east coast running it, except Mike," he said.
Saturday featured a downhill race on Old Littleton Road and Sunday featured another downhill contest known as the "slide jam" competition -- each offering a total of $2,000 in prizes.
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