The Steel Pier Classic & Surf Art Expo is a surfing competition in conjunction with a surf art show. We get together every Memorial Day Holiday Weekend, the last weekend in May for three glorious days of surfing and surf art on this major holiday that thousands of people enjoy and celebrate the start of summer in Virginia Beach, VA. Virginia Beach is the largest resort city on the east coast, and is a popular tourist destination on Memorial Day Weekend, which means the weekend generates great crowds for surfing spectators and art sales. The surf spot is affectionately known as The Jetty, and is the best surfing destination in Virginia Beach. Since 2004, the Virginia Longboard Association, an all volunteer organization, has produced the Steel Pier Classic, a professional and amateur surf contest with over 400 competitors. The name of the contest is derived from the Virginia Beach Steel Pier, which was located at the Va. Beach Oceanfront at First Street, circa the 1960’s. Historical references indicate that the roots of East Coast surfing were born at our very own Steel Pier. This was the surfing hot spot of the early 1960’s, where many learned to surf here, watching the “cool guys” who were the best surfers at the time. The Steel Pier was torn down in the 1970’s due to damage from the 1962 Ash Wednesday Storm. The pier eventually was beyond repair. To this day it is still the gathering spot for surfers at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. For this reason the Virginia Longboard Federation pays homage to this beloved surf spot with the annual surfing contest. It is the largest longboard surfing event on the East Coast. However, it is not only longboarding; it is comprised of a variety of events—nose riding, retro surfboarding, tandem, shortboarding, stand up paddleboard (SUP), and Pro/Am surfing divisions. All of the events encompass the soul of surfing and the heart of the Virginia Beach surfing community. It allows different generations of surfers to come together.
Jodie Woodward, a longtime local resident of Virginia Beach, event organizer, and sponsorship professional founded the VB Surf Art Expo. She’s was recruited as a sponsorship sales professional for the Steel Pier Classic in 2006. As time went by, she got involved more in the role of a marketing consultant to offer her expertise to help grow the event. In 2008, Jodie came up with the idea of the VB Surf Art Expo, thinking it would be a nice compliment the surfing competition. This endeavor successfully another dimension the event. To this day, over 70 professional artists exhibit on the boardwalk in addition to the surfing competition. Our purpose is to offer a professional surf art show that compliments the surfing contest – unlike any other art show in the region with the attraction of the surfing culture – a love of Mother Ocean. It’s a beautiful show in a relaxed setting that embraces the beach lifestyle.We have returning artists every year who are local favorites, and regional artists from Florida to Maine in addition to Ohio and Pennsylvania. The artwork is all about the ocean, water life, sea life, nautical, and tropical themes from all mediums such as painting, sculpture, photography, jewelry, glass, fiber, mixed media, and wood. For more information on how to apply as an artist, click here.
The Steel Pier Classic & Surf Art Expo has evolved over the years as a top surfing event and unique surf art show with great sales for artists who return year after year. Our purpose is to promote the art of surfing through the sport and also as an art form. The culture of surfing and the wonder of the ocean have stimulated surfers and surf artists for many years to be their best at what they do. The Steel Pier Classic & Surf Art Expo embraces the art of surfing in every form, whether it’s observing the sport of surfing, or featuring surf artists along the Va. Beach Boardwalk.
The Steel Pier Classic & Surf Art Expo is the place to be Memorial Day Weekend in Va. Beach! Come join us for some great surf art and wave riding bliss!
Greetings from Virginia Beach! Thank you for your interest in the Virginia Beach Surf Art Expo!
This is a very unique event produced by an avid surf art enthusiast! Since 2008, it has been my passion to create an art show that is different from any other. Unfortunately, the 2020 show was cancelled due to the Coronavirus. It is our intention to move forward with the event this year. As long as the City of Virginia Beach grants us our permit, in addition to the State of Virginia having workable crowd distancing guidelines that makes sense for you to make money, we will have the event. We will know more soon, hopefully from the City of Va. Beach.
For the new artists who have not done this show before, here’s some background history of the event:
The VB Surf Art Expo takes place on Memorial Day Weekend at the largest resort city on the east coast. The City of Virginia Beach prides itself on Memorial Day Weekend as the Official start of the Summer Season. On this weekend, the Oceanfront comes alive with its sparkling beaches, busy boardwalk, outdoor cafes, award winning restaurants, fashionable boutiques, popular nightlife, and family entertainment. This is why we chose this weekend to have the VB Surf Art Expo. Tourists stumble upon the VB Surf Art Expo while walking on the boardwalk. They are pleasantly surprised with the beautiful surf art and become happy buyers. There is also a strong attendance of local Virginia Beach families that live in the surrounding neighborhoods who embrace the beach lifestyle and support this event with annual purchases. The locals have supported this event from the beginning. We feel this is a target potential customer for you, as the locals cover their walls, patios, porches, and decks with surf art. The tourists are so impressed with this showcase of surf art, and want a memory of their vacation to take home. And don’t be surprised if a hotel owner stops by and buys your entire collection for the lobby of their hotel! This has actually happened! Numerous artists are delighted with commission work they have received by participating at this show. We have high rate of returning artists each year – so we must be doing something right!
If you create any type of art from any medium that has a relationship with surfing, the ocean, sea life, water scenes, shells, coral, dolphins, fish, nautical, etc. please apply. We hope that the VB Surf Art Expo will be something special for you every year, and something different from any other art show you do. Please spread the word and tell your friends and fellow artists about the VB Surf Art Expo in sunny Virginia Beach, VA —- the largest resort city on the East Coast! Come join us Memorial Day Weekend at the beach!
Show Director and Founder
“The Va. Beach Surf Art Expo is one of the best shows that I do all year. You can’t beat the location. Lots of people visit the boardwalk at the oceanfront, especially on a holiday weekend. The show is tied to the Steel Pier Classic surf contest, which brings out people who enjoy beach and surfing inspired art. The show was run very well for its first time, and I trust that it will be even smoother this year. If you’re an artist inspired by the coast, or a collector who loves the beach, this is your show. I look forward to participating again.”
“The surprising thing for me, were the sales! Most new art shows take a while to build reputations but this one took off right out of the gate as fun, profitable and well managed. And the location, On the Boardwalk with parking only steps away”.
Love the surf expo art show, I do about 20 a year and this one is one of my favorites, it is well organized, set up is easy, the sales are good and has the perfect atmosphere. A very relaxed show!
“I’ve shown my surf art at the Virginia Beach Surf Art Expo since 2009, and it’s a blast! Sold some art, made some new friends, took a few breaks and caught some fun surf. Went home sun burned and happy. I’m looking forward to next year!
“The VB Surf Art Expo is one of my favorite shows because it truly encapsulates the essence of surfing’s core essentials. People of all ages who love the water and the ocean life that surrounds us spend a long and beautiful weekend on beach at the jetty to celebrate this lifestyle we have chosen and are thankful for. I am honored to be a part of another historical chapter in surfing’s history in Virginia Beach via the surf art expo!”
“This is one of the best shows I do all year. I have been participating in this show since 2011. The location is great, I have many repeat customers that look forward to the show each year.”
“The Virginia Beach Surf Art Expo is one of my favorite shows of the year. Extremely well organized by one of the best promoters in the business. Attracting some of the area’s finest artists and art buyers it really is a must attend show. You really can’t beat the VB Boardwalk on Memorial Day weekend, it’s never lacking in smiling faces and happy art buyers.”
“Island Sand Sculptures has been presenting our work at the Virginia Beach Surf Art Expo for over 6 years! Being on the boardwalk and working with a great group of people is just an added benefit to the sales and support of the patrons! I love to start the summer out on The Virginia Beach Boardwalk! Being able to set up by appointment the day before the show starts is another reason1 I love this show! Thank you Jodie and Crew!”
“The Steel Pier Classic & Art Expo is one of my favorite and very profitable shows. The load in and load out is professionally done with a time slot for each artist to get to your booth. Jodie Woodward has the training and expertise needed to run a well organized show. This weekend is also the opening of the Beach season and Va Beach is a very popular tourist destination so we get customers from Virginia and all over the country. Can’t wait for the next show hope to see you there!”
VB Surf Art Expo Announces Response to Coronavirus ~ COVID-19
Press Release April 2, 2020
The Steel Pier Classic and Surf Art Expo on the Hampton Roads Show.
TV Appearance May 17, 2019
The 2017 Steel Pier Classic and Surf Art Expo Announces Local Artist’s work for this year’s commemorative poster.
Press Release April 25, 2017
Billabong presents the 2016 Coastal Edge Steel Pier Classic & Surf Art Expo
Press Release April 28, 2016
Billabong Presents the Coastal Edge Steel Pier Classic & Surf Art Expo
Press Release May 12, 2014
Sanction Changes to Steel Pier Classic
Press Release, April 19, 2012
Steel Pier Classic now ASP Sanctioned
Press Release March 19, 2012
Steel Pier Classic Presented by Coastal Edge Gets Set to Get Wet
Press Release, May 20, 2011
Steel Pier Classic Welcomes Coastal Edge as Presenting Sponsor
Press Release April 27, 2011
Visions of a Steel Pier in Virginia Beach: Surf Expo calendar pays visual homage to historic Steel Pier
Article from The Virginian Pilot January 2, 2011
Press Release May 18, 2010
Steel Pier Classic Welcomes Masters of Both Surfing and Art
Press Release May 26, 2010
Beach Surfing Event Memorial Day Weekend
Press Release May 8, 2009
Beach Surfing Event Adds Surf Art Expo
Press Release April 10, 2008
Stay up to date with what is going on with the Virginia Beach Surf Art Expo.