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La Izquierda Festival: Celebrating Surf, Music, and Community on the Pier

La Izquierda Festival will have its second annual festival in Galveston.
La Izquierda Festival will have its second annual festival in Galveston.
Photo By David Avina

This is the second year for Galveston’s La Izquierda Festival and last year definitely got them off on the right footing. “It was beyond anyone’s imagination how well it went, it went so good. Lots of people came out, it was a beautiful day and it had a little magic in the air. Everyone just really had the best time from morning all the way until night.” says founder and local musician Robert Kuhn.

The festival features all things groovy: surf competition, live music, local brewery beer tasting, yoga and coffee. It embodies a feel good vibe of a bygone surf era while celebrating all things local.

Kuhn is a musician based out of Galveston whose music often blends sounds and themes from all over the world. La Izquierda is the product of local businesses, friendships and organizations supporting one another for the greater good of Galveston and beaches everywhere, Kuhn says, describing it as, “community enrichment.”

La Izquierda founder and local musician Robert Kuhn.
La Izquierda founder and local musician Robert Kuhn.
Photo By Samantha Wiley

He got the idea for the name of this festival while driving in from Surfside to Galveston on the Seawall. "I saw a really pretty wave breaking on one of the side of the pier. It was a really pretty left hand wave and it was a break where nobody surfs really but it’s a nice spot.”

The spot Kuhn is referring to is a recently developed beach off the Seawall created after a replenishment program added sand to the area, “With the currents all the sand drifted down there and there never used to a beach down there. It was just rocks so it was kind of dangerous to get down there, nobody really surfed down there or hung out down there at all.”

Izquierda meaning left in Spanish, refers to a left hand wave. “Izquierda is a surfing term but it’s just an everything term. You can either go one of two directions; you can go right or left. You can’t really go straight and really, the wave is what picks the direction you need to go.” explains Kuhn.

Kuhn began reaching out to friends in Galveston and quickly had the support of many local businesses, artists and the Surfrider Foundation, which works to protect the world’s coastlines. The festival is in large part a fundraiser for the organization and serves to bring awareness to the issues facing the coastlines.

Organizers are implementing ways to reduce waste during the festival such as teaming up with Jimmy’s on the Pier, an ocean friendly restaurant by Surfriders standards. They also have created a commemorative reusable cup for beer tasting, printed their T-shirts on shirts found at thrift stores and will have a station to turn old shirts into reusable bags to discourage the use of plastic bags.

This year will feature two stages for live music, closing off the fishing pier to fishermen and more options for parking. Long term, Kuhn says, “We all need music festivals and more music, but what would make this different is that it can grow into something that is bigger than a little music/surfing festival in Galveston. It’s something that can translate really anywhere.”

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The festival will take place Saturday May 11 starting at 8 a.m. with free yoga and coffee from local coffee houses. There will also be time for open surf before the competitions begin. Throughout the day there will be a craft beer tasting contest, surf contest with prizes and live music covering many genres.

Kuhn has hand picked the line-up for the festival and plans to have music on both stages all day with each stage alternating a set. High energy local band, Los Skarnales will take visitors into the evening after the surf winners are announced at sunset and psych rockers, India Tigers in Texas, will take an illuminated stage at the end of the pier. Kuhn will even squeeze himself into the festivities and perform a set.

The only planned quiet moment will be when surfers take part in a paddle out to commemorate their friend Christopher “Kit” Hill who passed away this year.

La Izquierda is scheduled for May 11 at Jimmy's on the Pier, 9001 Seawall, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. For more information visit laizquierdafest.com. $10-25,

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