Introduction and Interview by Troy Sanders. Images by Dustin Spengler

To be completely honest, I did not think this event would be as big as it was, considering it was just one of the precursors for the Panhandle Pow-Wow this summer. But Blake Taylor came out with full force organizing this event. Adding several huge obstacles to the park, keeping a large drunk crowd in check, and wrangling what seemed to be every skater that inhabited Florida into a tiny, wet skate park. I thought it would be good to ask Blake a few questions about this event and the foreseeable future of the Pow-Wow.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE THE PANHANDLE POW-WOW CONTEST?

A number of things inspired me to create the Pow-Wow, most of them stemming from my passion for blading. I had wanted to put together a contest since I was about 18 (I’m 29 now) but it never really panned out. The Roll Series, created in ’07 by Colin Martin, had rekindled those ideas by encouraging street contests around the country to unite.  I love being immersed within the blade community. So it was an opportunity to put my ideas to work, a chance to get us all together, and a good excuse to throw a party.

It’s always been about creating good times and an experience that will keep you taking about it all year long until the next one comes around.

SO, THE POW-WOW QUALIFIERS JUST CAME TO A CLOSE… IT HAD SUCH A HUGE TURNOUT, ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING IT WAS JUST A QUALIFIER EVENT; DID YOU ANTICIPATE IT TO BE SO HUGE?

Not at first. I thought I could just name a time and place and the rest would take care of it self. I didn’t plan on being too involved in the event itself. I just wanted a chill version of the Pow-Wow. Plus the venue was very inviting.

It wasn’t long before I started thinking of ways of connecting the 2 events. About that time I received word the Panhandle Pow-Wow would be scheduled for the 2010 WRS roster of 5 star events, giving the event WRS’s highest rating. I figured that was a great way to cross promote both events, create a fundraiser for the main event, and still accomplish what I initially intended. There was a point that I realized I’ve got another Pow-Wow on my hands.

THIS QUALIFIER DEFINITELY HAD A UNIQUE VIBE TO IT, FROM THE ATTITUDE OF THE SKATERS TO THE LEVEL OF SKATING THAT WENT DOWN; IS THIS MOSTLY BECAUSE IT’S PREDOMINANTLY A SOUTHERN COMPETITION?

I agree with you on the vibe. I still can’t put my finger on it though. I think that Southern bladers have a great deal of pride and confidence in our scene. That definitely played a great part in the vibe. However, I think it had more do with the routine that has become the Pow-Wow. Most people there had attended a Pow-Wow event before. Everyone knew it was a safe haven to be themselves and relax. Maybe a little too relaxed…

THERE WAS DEFINITELY A LOT OF WILD STUFF GOING DOWN AT THE PARK, BOTH SKATING-WISE AND PARTYING-WISE. THAT KID FALLING OFF THE ROLL-IN WAS PRETTY SCARY. DO YOU THINK THINGS GOT A LITTLE OUT OF HAND?

I’m very glad you asked because I’ve been meaning to address this. No, I don’t think things got out hand. I think a few individuals got out of hand and unfortunately put an abrupt end to the AM contest. I am very glad the individual that fell is all right. When it happened I didn’t know what to think but the worst. So his well-being was my main focus.

With that being said, I have always pushed the fact that my event and all events, are made possible by all the attendees. In appreciation for their commitment to attend, I try to accommodate everyone there in every way possible. It’s no secret that I promote alcohol at my events, and I encourage a lax atmosphere. Hell, one of the reasons I chose GSP was because they have a license to serve alcohol.

However, I do not condone getting so shit faced at my events that you can’t even stand straight. So for anyone planning to attend my events expecting things to get loose, they will. Just remember to handle yourself accordingly though. Keep your buddies in check, and think about your actions for the sake of everyone in attendance.

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE AT THIS YEAR’S PANHANDLE POW-WOW?

The Pow-Wow is growing. As I mentioned before, the Pow-Wow is scheduled for the 5 star, WRS Pro series. So expect another AM qualifier the day of allowing 5 more AMS to qualify for the Pro event. The new venue should be a great change of scenery. The skate park is at a bowling alley/bar, and 20 minutes from the beach (I won’t even mention what is located next door). Bigger cash prize. I also have a few more surprises up my sleeve I’m not quite ready to announce yet. It’s gonna be just like any other Pow-Wow but on a bigger scale, and the Beach. What more could you ask for?

BEING THE BIGGEST CONTEST IN THE SOUTH SINCE SUPER-HICK, DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS ON EXPANDING THE POW-WOW?

You’ve actually already seen the beginning of those plans with the Qualifiers. Since the Pow-Wow’s inception I’ve wanted to take a bigger bite. Which means more events. The plans to expand to a southeastern contest series may be in the early stages. It will be a slow process but maybe in 2011, we’ll see an event in south Florida, and/or the ATL too.

The main focus though is to keep the Pow-wow growing.

ANY SHOUT-OUTS OR ANNOUNCEMENTS FOR THIS SUMMER’S EVENT?

I don’t want to leave anyone out, so I’ll just say thank you to everyone who has played a part in this event. From the sponsors,  skaters,  filmers, and spectators it wouldn’t be possible without all of you. Thanks for you support.