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On the rails: Jibba Jabba competition returns to Houghton

Paula Porter/For the Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON — Jibba Jabba 2024 was in full swing Saturday evening in downtown Houghton. Spectators arrived in winter attire and quickly lined up on both sides of Huron Street to view the big snowboarding event. Dusk fell and bright lights placed along the route lit the course.

Event organizer Jennette Reed said, “Jibba Jabba was a huge success this year. It was amazing to see so many smiling faces and everyone enjoy themselves.”

Snowboarders began doing some warm-up runs at about 6 p.m. on the freshly built course by Jibba Jabba creators and snow trucked onto the street by the city.

Participants and spectators were from all over the Midwest. Some traveled from Duluth, Minnesota, Chicago, Illinois and Becker, Minnesota. Several spectators also drove up from lower Michigan.

Braving a chilly temperature of about 30 degrees and a brisk light wind, spectators jostled and moved around to find a good viewing spot.

Paula Porter/For the Mining Gazette

More than 1,000 people attended this year’s event, contributing to a celebratory atmosphere, as all watched stunning athletic feats on a down-hill street course with snow-built ramps and multiple rails.

Multiple food trucks were open at the bottom of Huron Street, where the Red Bull truck and a couple of clothing vendors were parked as well. Music with heart thumping beats got everyone fired up.

Once the practice runs were completed, the Jibba Jabba course was quickly touched up to make it smooth again for participants. The actual competition then begin for snowboarders to showcase their talents.

Snowboarders took turns from the very top of the snow-filled street and hopped up onto the unique rail features or opted to pick up speed for a trick further down the snow course. Several received big cheers from the crowds based on the difficulty of their trick or jump. One competitor’s stunning back-flip caused the crowd to erupt in loud cheering.

Winning best trick awards were Garrett McKenzie and Nate Bujarski, both of Minnesota.

Paula Porter/For the Mining Gazette

The Portage Lake District Public Library was available to accommodate eventgoers. The library handed out to-go packets for children to take home to make a craft of a snowboarder. In addition, the library showed an animated feature and sold tickets for prize snowboards. The winners were

Zachary Heintz of Macomb, Michigan, and Jacob Farr of Houghton.

Two $1,000 cash prizes were awarded for the top rider-voted male and female snowboard competitors. The winning riders were Jake McPherson of Duluth and Javya Jordan of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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