Winners of The North American Sand Sculpting Championship, a featured event in the 37th Virginia Beach Neptune Festival were announced Friday evening, Sept. 24. The event is one of the world's largest sand sculpting competitions.
The Virginia Beach Neptune Festival Boardwalk Weekend is held annually on the last weekend in September, and is recognized as one of the Top 100 Events in North America. The festival takes place along the oceanfront boardwalk, from 2nd Street to 36th Street. Over 500,000 visitors attend the festival each year.
The invitational sand sculpting competition with a cash purse of over $50,000 drew artists from 11 countries. The Neptune Festival invites participants who have competed and placed well in other respected sand sculpting competitions.
Professional sand sculptures are judged according to skill of
construction, originality, strongest impact, and overall presentation. Competitors have 24 hours over three days to complete their sculptures.
The third place prize for Solo Professionals ($3,000) went to "Poor Planning" by Walter MacDonald.
John Gowdy (Italy/N.J.) won the $5,000 for first place in the Solo Professionals category for "Love Never Grows Old." A retired firefighter, he is now a professional artist, painting and carving in both marble and sand. Gowdy conducted free "No Hassle Sandcastle" clinics on sand sculpting which were open to the public prior to the festival. The Neptune Festival also offers an amateur competition for schools, businesses and nonprofessional freelance sand sculptors.
Edith van de Wetering and Wilfred Stijger of The Netherlands won $9,000 for first place in the Team professionals in the master's division for their sculpture, "Carpe Diem."
Edith has been a sand sculptor since 1993 and is her 4th year competing at the Neptune Festival. Wilfred has been a sand sculptor since 1989. They won 1st place at the 2009 International Sandskulpturen-festival Rorschach, Switzerland.
Carpe Diem also took the Sculptor's Choice and Neptune's Choice awards for Team Professionals.
On Wednesday Sept. 22, the various forms packed with sand that lined the beach gave little clue to their imminent incarnations as Jill Harris and Thomas Koet (USA) prepared for their sand sculpture.
Harris and Koet's "Flamenco" won the fifth place prize for Team Professionals ($1,000).
The fourth place prize for Team Professionals ($3,000) went to "Celtic Sisters" by Karen Fralich (Canada) and Sue McGrew (USA).
The unassuming forms filled with sand that would become the Celtic Sisters waited patiently on Wednesday.
The sculpture developed as Fralich and McGrew worked on it on Thursday.
More details were added on Friday.
On Saturday, striking details can be seen in the Celtic costumes and on the quietly expressive faces.
"Neptune Saves the Day" by Sandis Kondrats and Uldis Zarins (Latvia) addressed the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
The oil spill was also the topic of "Save the Sea" by Sudarsan Pattnaik (India.) It won fifth place for Solo Professionals ($1,000) and depicts King Neptune rising from the Sea to discover oil spillage. It also won the Neptune's Choice and Sculptor's Choice Solo awards.
The second place prize for Solo Professionals ($4,000) went to Rich Varano for "Cascadia: A Sand Fantasea."
The fourth place prize for Solo Professionals ($2,000) went to "Glory Lost and Restored" by Matt Deibert.
Helena Bangert's magical ride on a seahorse, "Going
For A Ride," received the sixth place prize for Solo
The second place prize for Team Professionals ($7,000) went to "Together Forever" by Jonathan Bouchard and Jacinthe Trudel.
"Old Navy" by Meredith Corson and Dan Doubleday won the third place prize for Team Professionals ($5,000).
Inspired? Water and sand are your main ingredients - just head to the beach with some buckets, carving tools and spray bottles to practice up for next year, or build a virtual sandcastle at http://www.virtualsandcastle.com/home/index.aspx
Other festival events range from sporting activities such as golf, volleyball, tennis, the Sandman Triathlon, and the 8K run and surfing competition, to the art and craft show, which alone attracts almost 300 exhibitors and a wide variety of food vendors. The Boardwalk Weekend also includes the Grand Parade and three outdoor stages featuring concerts and other entertainment. In addition the NAS Oceana Air Show takes place during Neptune Festival season and regularly hosts the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, or Canadian Snowbirds.
The event is held annually, on the last weekend in September, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where visitors are welcomed by the colossal statue of King Neptune on the boardwalk at 31st Street.
For more information on the Neptune Festival: http://www.neptunefestival.com
Websites of participating sand sculptors:
Thomas Koet and Jill Harris www.sandsational.com
Dan Doubleday and Meredith Corson www.sandingovations.com
Karen Fralich and Sue McGrew Burlington www.sandqube.com
Rich Varano www.sultansofsand.com
John Gowdy www.jgowdy.com
Walter McDonald http://amazinwalter.com
Lucinda Wierenga www.sandyfeet.com
NOTE: Lucinda is the author of the book "Sandcastles Made Simple: Step-by-Step Instructions, Tips, and Tricks for Building Sensational Sand Creations" available on Amazon or on her website above.