By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — For the past eight years, West Rock Wake Park has slowly built a reputation among some of the country’s best riders as one of the premier cable parks in the United States.
Now it has the attention of leaders in the wakeboard industry, too.
West Rock was named the 2022 Wake Park of the Year by the Water Sports Industry Association. Dan Jarrett, who owns and operates the park with his wife, Amy, accepted the award last week at a conference in Lake Tahoe, California.
“Accepting the award was incredible because it’s in front of all the main people who kind of paved the way in the industry,” Jarrett said. “It was a huge honor to get recognized by that group. We’re finally on the map with a group like that.”
West Rock, which provides access for anyone to wakeboard without owning a boat, opened on Levings Lake on the city’s west end in July 2014. At first, it offered two System 2.0 cables pulling riders back and forth in a straight line, but in fall 2017 it expanded to a full-sized loop around the lake with floating features like a skate park on water.
“It’s a world class facility on the southwest side of Rockford,” Jarrett said. “We’re the most affordable park in the country, and it’s right in Rockford’s backyard.”
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Jarrett said West Rock stands in stark contrast to some of the bigger, “almost resort-like” cable parks across the country. It has succeeded on grassroots connections to riders and with partnerships with the Rockford Park District, which owns Levings Park where the wake park is located, and other local governments.
“All these other parks have invested multi-, multimillions — so to be recognized as the best park in the U.S. is encouraging because we’ve done a lot with a little and it’s making a big impact in the sport,” he said.
West Rock prides itself on working closely with customers to make sure they succeed on the water, offering close instruction to help you learn the turns and balance needed to cruise the park. It also partners with organizations like Above the Wake, which works with riders who have autism, to increase access to the sport.
“We’re not going to just give you your rental gear and say good luck,” Jarrett said. “We want to be known as the park that cares about the professional rider as much as the first timer.”
The park, which glows under summer sunsets on Levings Lake, hosts pro competitors each year. This year it will host a qualifier for the Space Mob Park Series and a stop on the national Points Chase series, which has its finals in Florida and the world competition in London.
“We want to get people, even if they’re never going to ride, to come out and watch some of the best athletes in the world right here in Rockford,” Jarrett said.
The park typically operates from May 1 to mid-October.