By Jill Diver
HAMPTON — With the help of sculpting tools, drinking straws and other assorted paraphernalia, 300 tons of imported sand will be turned into museum-quality sculptures on the beach here beginning this Saturday, June 19 and running through the 30th.
“Hampton Beach is one of the five-star rated beaches on the East Coast,” said John Kane, marketing director for the sand sculpting competition.
“When you take that (sand and) add a little bit of moisture, it compacts very fine and that allows us to push the limits on sand castles.”
This is the 10th year the sand sculpting competition has been held at Hampton Beach. This year, it serves as a qualifier for sculptors to enter the World Championships in September at Port Angeles, Washington state. The winner there takes home $15,000 in prize money.
“We are trying to professionalize sand sculpture,” said master sculptor Greg Grady, an event coordinator for the sculpting contest.
“We are the only qualifier on the East Coast for the World Championship,” Grady continued. “The winner of Hampton Beach gets to participate with all expenses paid.”
Sculptors will have a total of 21 hours over three days to complete their own private plot and 10 tons of sand with which to work. Sculptors will be carving from June 24 to 26. The sculptures will remain on display through June 30, and lit for night viewing.
Prior to the masters beginning their competition, a massive 200-ton sponsor site will be created from June 19 to 23. A Masters Group Carve will take place June 23.
“The theme for the sponsor area is Shangri-la,” Kane said. “We build sand sculptures around our theme and put our sponsors’ logos around the area.”
Sculptors use nothing but sand and water to hold their creations together.
“Each sculptor gets 10 tons of sand to work with,” said Kane. “They make a wedding cake tier — that is what holds it up properly. And then they start from the top and they work their way down.”
While most beach-goers wish for sun and clear skies, these sand sculptors work better in the rain.
“Rain does not have an effect on sand castles,” Grady said. “Worst thing for a sand sculpture is a sunny day. Especially, when you get wind, the sand drys out and becomes like talcum.”
In order for the completed sculptures to last longer and remain on view for the public, they will be sprayed with a mixture of water and Elmer’s glue to seal them and keep them from drying out.
“(Sculptors) travel the world doing this,” Grady said. “The better sculptors, a lot of them, do this full time. It’s a worldwide circuit, between 200 and 300 sculptors in the world. Once you get your name out there then you start getting invited to places.”
IF YOU GO
What: Hampton Beach Sand Sculpting Contest.
When: June 19 to 30.
Where: Hampton Beach
Friday, June 18
Three hundred tons of imported sand will be delivered to Hampton Beach.
Saturday, June 19 to Wednesday, June 23
Massive 200 Ton Sponsor Site Created.
Wednesday, June 23
Sponsors Grand Finale with a Master Group Carve.
Thursday, June 24, to Saturday, June 26
Solo Competition $15,000 purse and entry awards.
Saturday, June 26
Free sculpting lesson, 1 to 3 p.m. Sign-up day of the lesson only, in person, outside the Chamber Office near the Sand Sculpture event.
Voting for People’s Choice Award, 1 to 4 p.m.
Awards Ceremony on Sea Shell Stage, 8 p.m.
Fireworks display, 9:30 p.m.
This article ran in NH Lets Go on June 16, 2010.