November 21 through the 30 of 2014 marked the 28th Annual American Sand Sculpting Championship. This enchanting event pulls together a variety of artistic talents from around the world. It’s host location is SW Florida’s own Fort Myers Beach. Bring your family, friends and/or a loved one for a great day at the beach. The sugar white fine sand and the warm tempered weather is ideal for such an event. You will not be disappointed.
There are various ways to reach this event’s location. It is held on a vast area of beach behind the Wyndham Garden Hotel on the south end of Estero Island. You can park just a few miles away and straight across from Lovers Key State Park. The parking lot and shuttle service is free of charge. Another way to reach the event is to take the fun loving Ft. Myers Beach Trolley system. It runs up and down Estero Blvd on a very reliable schedule. The cost is $.50 per person and seniors and pre-school children are $.25. The trolley operates 7 days a week (excluding some holidays). There is also plenty of parking in and around the event.
The 2014 ticket cost was $4 on-line and $5 at the gate. The event is mostly directed by volunteers in collaboration with the local Chamber of Commerce, The Town of Ft. Myers Beach and local sponsorships. The gate is very well staffed and makes for easy and quick entry. This was my first year to be a volunteer. I have worked other events in the same capacity, but nothing like this one. I will again sign up as a volunteer for next year’s 29th Annual American Sand Sculpting Championship.
There are plenty of family attractions, vendors, food and beverage tents for everyone’s enjoyment. They are located in and around the main event. Once you step foot onto the soft sand, you will no longer need your shoes. Fort Myers Beach was selected by the Sand Sculpture Association for its delicate fine sugar white sand that makes for a perfect ingredient to create the fabulous artwork you will see below.
The “Transformation of the Rock Fish” (pictured left) was created by Master Sculpture Bruce Waugh. Bruce’s home town is Langley, BC, Canada. Besides sculpting sand, he also masters snow and pumpkin carving. Another Canadian born Master sculptor DeLayne Corbett shows off his “Ocean Dream” entry (pictured right). DeLayne likes working with earthy and raw materials to create his works of art. His current home is in Vancouver where he works in his studio.
This particular sculpture called “Captured Love” (pictured left) blends beast, women and a castle to create a multi-dimensional scene that inspires your imagination. The abstract design (shown above right) depicts a diabolical looking pumpkin that could put the fear into any trick or treater on Halloween.
John Gowdy from New Jersey and Greg Grady Jr. from Hampton Beach paired up in the doubles competition. They are working on their sculpture with plans to put the final touches on before the sun sets over the beautiful Gulf waters. Greg is a self taught artist and second generation sculptor. John was a firefighter in Atlantic City for 27 years before retiring as a Captain.
This amazing sculpture named “Rude Awaking” was created by Netherlands born Bouke Atema. It depicts a man being woken up abruptly after a giant bird of pray smashes through his subconscious dream without any warning. Bouke now lives in Berlin, Germany and besides being a master sculptor is also a professional photographer.
What would a sand sculpting championship be without a sand castle? The castle shown left called “Upscale Neighborhood” was mastered by the “Amazing” (Walter) McDonald from South San Padre Island, Texas. He has been featured on the Travel Channel’s Sand Blasters. His creations are always a favorite with the Peoples Choice Award.
The detail on these magnificent works of art cannot be justified by camera alone. The heart and skill that goes into designing and sculpting of these amazing pieces is indescribable. All of the photos shown in this article are merely glimpses of their workmanship from afar. They must be fully admired in person.
After the crowds have left and the full-on pressures of completing, competing and communicating with the spectators has passed, a sense on comradery bounds between the masters themselves. They are unique and very special individuals who give our eyes a spectacular view of their imaginary thoughts. They stimulate our minds into thinking that there are other dimensions out there that aren’t always so black and white. If you ever have the opportunity to attend a sand sculpting event, by all means go. Fort Myers Beach, Florida always schedules the event during the week of Thanksgiving or somewhere around that time frame.
A special thanks goes out to The Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce for their support and the opportunity to volunteer at such a fantastic event.
Author: Anthony Scopel
Photographs: Anthony & Maureen Scopel