Surf Rodeo Wrangles Up Ventura County Locals

Local event takes over Pierpont Beach

By Lori Denman

Gathering for a good time is what Pierpont Beach in Ventura County does best, especially when the Surf Rodeo comes to town.

The Surf Rodeo wrangled up about 5,000 revelers during the entire weekend on July 14 and 15. It proved to be a success with large crowds of all ages, roaming amongst the event’s grounds from the end of a shut-down Seaward and onto the beach. Many activities included food trucks, the Bikini Cowgirl Contest, a mechanical bull and tastings of a variety of brews in the beer garden.

Fishbone rocked out at the Surf Rodeo; photo by Lori Denman

Surf Rodeo founder John Drury, aka “JD” referred to the event as his “love project.” His moment of glory each year is assuring that attendees had a good time. He was also ecstatic to announce the first year of Surf Rodeo’s own homegrown brew.

The main attraction was dancing by the sea to a stellar lineup of 30 bands — local and longtime favorites — Fishbone, Long Beach Dub All Stars (members of Sublime), Bow Wow Wow and more. A few of JD’s favorites were Jolly Crew, Highway Star and of course the one he headlines, Raging Arb and the Redheads. The sandy dance floors of two stages felt the vibrations of a crowd that showed their appreciation for these bands they’ve loved since the 80s.

Locals of Ventura County enjoyed the sun, sand and bands; photo by Lori Denman

“This is the 11thSurf Rodeo, yet the sixth in a row,” JD told Citizens Journal.  “I took a break to work on other ventures including the Warped Tour to see what worked and what didn’t and studied marketing events. I am happy with what we have created. This year’s event was sponsored by Pacifico and we even have our own Surf Rodeo beer this year. It’s pretty good!”

The rodeo kicked off in the early morning with a surf contest including host Jeff Belzer and the Ventura Makos Surf Camp, a crew of young surfers. The crews were each represented by bright colored jerseys and cowboy hats. Prior to the weekend, JD and surf friends (some pros, some not) shaped a large quiver of boards to be used in the contests.

“We gather a large group of our friends together, some of them are world renowned surfers like Dane Reynolds, and we shape a lot of boards specifically for the rodeo,” JD said. “We bust each other’s chops, making fun of each other’s boards and how bad they look. We ride the boards all weekend. Then we raffle them off at the end for charity.”

The dancers and drinkers enjoyed a beachfront sunset view of bands and then spilled out into the night at the shutdown of the rodeo, waiting again patiently for next year’s hoedown.

To learn more about the Surf Rodeo, log onto

Lori Denman has been a professional journalist since 1996. She has worked as associate editor for the Los Angeles Daily News TODAY Magazines and has freelanced for LA Weekly, and more. She is now the Ventura reporter for Citizens Journal.

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