When Mark Rodriguez was 8 years old, he received a skateboard as a gift. From that moment on, Rodriguez, otherwise known as "Mrod," was hooked.
Today, Rodriguez owns Golden Valley's 3rd Lair and has managed to turn his passion for skateboarding into a full-time job. While his skate shop and park is bustling with activity all summer long, the Great Minnesota Getogether marks the peak of the season.
Beginning Monday, some 40 skateboarders will show off their skills at the Minnesota State Fair during the finale of 3rd Lair's Summer Series.
"The whole goal behind Summer Series is to create a little league type of atmosphere for skateboarders," Rodriguez said. "For the kids that skate at our park, skateboarding is their sport. They don't play football or soccer. They're focused on skateboarding. So, Summer Series gives them something to work toward."
Summer Series began June 2, with the first competition hosted in Hopkins. 3rd Lair put on 12 other competitions across the metro area, including contests in Maple Grove, Oakdale, St. Louis Park and Plymouth. The top three skaters in each age group, and in each standalone event, advanced to the State Fair finale.
This year marks the first year that 3rd Lair has allowed an eight and under age group to compete. "It's kind of like a T-ball level for skateboarding," Rodriguez said. "It's cool for the little kids to see the more experienced guys skating."
Golden Valley residents Zach Wooten, 14, and Hugo Richard, 14, will compete at the State Fair finale. The complete list of competitors is published on 3rd Lair's website.
"The finals that we have at the fair help establish a more legitimate perspective around skateboarding," Rodriguez said. "Really, it's about the kids trying to be the best skateboarders they can be."
The 3rd Lair Summer Series finals start on Monday, Aug. 27 and go until Wednesday, Aug. 29. You can see finalists in action from Noon to 3 p.m., 4:30 and 6 p.m. at the northwest corner of Murphy Ave. and Underwood St.
For more information about 3rd Lair at the Minnesota State Fair, including information about demos, lessons and giveaways, click here.