Tag: sand castle contest

Second Annual Yarmouth Summer Celebration

Second Annual Yarmouth Summer Celebration

For immediate release 5/16/2012. World renowned master sand sculptor Sean Fitzpatrick of Fitzy Snowman Sculpting  will be returning to West Yarmouth this summer to  execute the largest single sand sculpting exhibition in the North East United States. He will be accompanied by three other international superstars of sand sculpting, Suzanne Altamare, star of Sand wars and Sand Blasters, Fred Mallett, international world traveler and award-winning sand sculptor and Tracey Fitzpatrick, expert organiser, logo carver and the overall glue that holds this illustrious team together. In total they will be creating 32 exhibition sculptures at business throughout the town of Yarmouth along with three giant sculptures at Bass River Beach. The public is invited to watch the sculptors build these artistic creations. In addition, attendees are welcome to participate in amateur sand sculpting contests at the Beach on Wednesday, June 27 and Friday, June 29.  The event runs from June, 24th – 29th.

But there’s much more than just sand. Join the fun at Sunday’s “Salsa by the Sea” Latin dance workshop and demonstration, two and four-line kite demonstrations along with a limited inventory of complimentary kite kits for youngsters, an evening ice cream sampling, morning nature walks, a fishing clinic and derby, Cape Cod Sailing Regatta hosted by the Bass River Yacht Club, home Cape League baseball games featuring the Y-D Red Sox including a visit from Wally the Green Monster and canine Frisbee entertainment, stunt bicycling demonstrations, a Summer Celebration Festival with local raw bar, Captain Parker’s award-winning clam chowder, hot dogs, ice cream novelties along with wine, beer and soft beverages, not to mention live beach music by Doctor Rock, a four-piece band headlined by Freddie Ghioto of Freddie and the Maybellines fame and, last but not least, family cartoons on the “big screen” followed by spectacular fireworks finale set to music at dusk.

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Sand Sculpting events past, present and future.

Sand Sculpting events past, present and future.

Sand sculpting exhibitions and events have been popular in the United States since the late 1800’s . Historical accounts, postcards and rare photos confirm that sand sculptures have been attracting huge crowds to business districts for well over a hundred years. Early artists, some commissioned by business owners, some working strictly for tips, created huge relief sculptures along the boardwalk in Atlantic City, NJ. These sculptures attracted tourists and local residents, who marveled at these intricate creations. Unfortunately, after several decades of these successful exhibitions, a handful of con artists took advantage of the huge crowds these sculptures generated and caused a pick pocket panic frenzy that lead to the outlawing of sand sculpting exhibitions on the Atlantic City Boardwalk in 1944.  This law is actually still on the books to this day.

Sand Sculpture 1910
Sand Sculpture Atlantic City 1910

Rebirth

Following WWII families returned to the beaches in huge numbers. Americans were again embracing beach side communities as vacation hot spots. Soon family sand sculpture contests sprung up all over the east coast.  In the early 70’s, incredible masterpieces were documented reappearing in California. Gerry Kirk and Todd VanderPluym, collectively known as Sand Sculptors International (SSI) created fanciful architectural wonders that reignited America’s interest in sand sculpture exhibitions.  Another artist, the late Mark Altamare was leaving  his mark ( no pun intended) on the east coast. Starting in Ocean City , MD during the summer of 1968  Mark honed his natural  gift of  soft sand carving. By simply manipulating the freshly piled sand with  only his, hands he would craft wonderous classical and religious scenes. These three artists, while on different paths, all represented a new generation of full-time  professional sand sculptors.

Beach 1950's
Back to the beaches 1950's

 

A  Championship event is born

World RecordIn 1986 one of the first  organized sand castle competitions took place in the small town of Whiterock, BC. The event was successful in attracting over 100,000 spectators. Unfortunately the small town was unable to handle such large crowds. Wide spread vandalism forced the community council to ban future sand sculpting events at this small town. At that time it must have seemed like sand sculpting events would never get off the ground. Fortunately for these artists, not far away in a town known as Harrison’s Hot Springs, BC, a local Lions group, headed by John Green thought there would be potential for a sandcastle event in Harrison Hot Springs.  He persuaded the Lions Club and the Chamber of Commerce  members to make an investment in a handful of professional sculptors from Whiterock to build an exhibition sculpture on the beach at Harrison’s Hot Springs. This first event in the spring of 1987 was a local success so they decided to hold a contest in the Fall of 1987 that attracted teams from Seattle and Vancouver to compete for a $2000 first prize.  Compared to current day sand sculpting contests that range from 21 – 27 hours, this team contest was only 4 hours long. The event continued to grow throughout the late 80’s into the 90’s with several landmark achievements such as setting two world records for the tallest sand sculpture and more importantly creating a place for sand sculptors to network and set goals for the future of sand sculpting as a competitive spectators event.

More sculpting events

The 1980’s also saw the creation of several other sand sculpting contests around the United States. Many of these events were started by city council groups, chambers and community groups hoping to boost their tourism industry. Sculptor from around the country flocked to these contests attempting to make  a name for them selves in the sand sculpting community. Events like Sand Castle Days on  South Padre Island, TX, the Neptune Festival in Virginia Beach, VA and the American Sand Sculpting Championship in Fort Myers, FL  continue to contribute millions of dollars in stimulus to the local economies they support.  

Successes and failures

While these events experienced relative success, they were not without problems of their own.  Many events suffered from shifting control over the years of  mostly volunteer groups which failed to provide a stable platform for a unified contest series. Even with the birth of the internet and the ability to share experiences between events, most communities chose to keep a closed-door policy on the sharing of information.  Sculptors also struggled  to take advantage of the success of these events, partly due to the lack of a unified voice among sculptors but mostly because there were few events that were organised by sculptors. The simple fact was the artists were outnumbered by the organizers. Any artist who complained about less than stellar prize money or poor judging practices was most likely to be shut out of  the contest the following year.

The pursuit of structure

 Fortunately, a hand full of sculptors  had taken advantage of their exposure and were able to create independent sculpting companies of their own. This had  allowed them to make a full-time living creating sculptures for corporate and private clients  as well as help create new sand sculpting events of their own. This shift in control over events has been a slow one but constantly progressing forward. Event organisers have started to rely more heavily on the participation of sculptors in the oversight of their events as well.

Change is in the air

The most significant change in professional sand sculpting came in 2009. It became apparent after 22 years, what had come to be known as the World Championship of Sand Sculpting in Harrison’s Hot Springs was not going to take place. A shift in political and developmental policy at Harrison’s had forever closed the doors on the historic event. Even though the global sand sculpting community had never  fully come to recognise the event  as the one true World Championship, its loss was no less painful for all the artists that had attended it over the years. A small group of passionate artists that included Suzanne Altamare, widow to the late Mark Altamare under took the daunting task of finding a new home for the World Championships. Suzanne, a talented sand sculptor herself, was experienced and well-respected  by both sand sculptors and event organisers. Her passion for the advancement of professional sand sculpting events as well as the advancement of the artists themselves  is unlike anything this writer has ever known. It would not be long before a new location was found.   

A sence of unity

World Championship of Sand SculptingIn the fall of 2010 in a small town outside of Seattle , WA  known as Federal Way, a new World Championship of Sand Sculpting was held. While the event was far from perfect, it had successfully achieved what no single  event in sand sculpting history had done before. This event now had qualifying events in seven different countries! For the first time events around the globe opened up their doors and cooperated. A major advantage in this new open door policy was the ability to share travel costs of artists which in some cases had been up to the artist to cover. Much work is still needed to continually improve the system of professional sand sculpting. For now it seems that a hand full of artists have taken the lead. From what I have seen, there is nothing that can stop them.  For now this story is…. TO BE CONTINUED! 

   
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