17th annual

Sand-sculpting competition taking shape at Hampton Beach

NewHampshire.com |
June 14. 2017 12:58PM

Fantastical creatures emerge each summer at the Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Classic. Back for another try at the title, Justin Gordon of Groveland, Mass., created this piece,”Whispering Oak,” during a previous competition at the beach. 

HAMPTON BEACH — It’s finally here. Beach time.

As the official start of summer draws near, works of art created by sand sculptors from around the world once again will take shape today through Saturday on Hampton Beach.

The 17th annual Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Classic is drawing 10 sand sculptors to the Seacoast to compete for $15,000 in prize money. In addition to first place, honors will be given for second through fifth places and the people’s choice and sculptor’s choice winners.

Sand sculptors will transform imported sand from a nearby quarry into imaginative and inspirational works.

There is an artistry not only to the finished product but the carving process. Sculptures have fallen, cracked, or crumbled in the past, and it’s up to the sculptors to correct structural problems before time is up. Creating large “cut-throughs,” as they are called, often seems to defy gravity, but the bragging rights are worth the risk since the more daring the design, the more notice from judges a piece will get.

The weather adds its own challenges. After a rainstorm or a day filled with wind, the artists just pick up where Mother Nature left off and continue to create (or re-imagine) whatever speaks to them. There have been horses and birds and demons to flowers.

This year’s theme for the sponsor site, which was built first and completed during a group carve Wednesday, is “We Make Dreams Come True.”

Though two well-known artists — Lucinda “Sandy Feet” Wierenga and last year’s winner, Guy Olivier-Deveau — will not be competing this year, there is a newcomer to the event, Joris Kivits from the Netherlands.

“I will continue to create my mind and thoughts in sand,” Kivits said. “Making sand sculptures for me is like a theater act. You can enjoy it as long as it is there and then the memory and pictures are the only things that remain.”

The slate also will include Canada’s Michel Lepire in his final competition before retirement and the Granite State’s Greg Grady, Jr., along with Karen Fralich of Toronto; Justin Gordon from Massachusetts; Abe Waterman of Prince Edward Island; Carl Jara from Ohio; Mélineige Beauregard from Montreal; and David Andrews of Wisconsin.

Vote for the people’s choice between 1 and 3 p.m. Saturday. The awards ceremony will take place at 8 p.m. on the Sea Shell Stage, with a fireworks display to follow at 9:30 p.m.

The finished pieces will stand as an outdoor gallery of sorts, with lighted night viewing offered through Wednesday, June 28.

For more information about the Classic, visit hamptonbeach.org.

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