Spanning November 10-14, 2010, the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce presented an awesome event on Ft. Myers Beach. Sixteen sand sculptors from all over the world gathered to show off their sand sculpting talents at the 24th Annual American Sand Sculpting Championship. From as far away as Latvia to as close as Ft. Myers, sand sculptors converged on Ft. Myers Beach, no doubt hoping to win the first place title of 2010 best sand sculpture.
Known for its powdery, white sand as soft as talcum, Ft. Myers Beach is the perfect setting for a November sand sculpting festival. The winning sand sculptor at the Fort Myers Beach festival will earn a cherished invite to the World Competition for Sand Sculpting in 2011.
If you live close to a coastline and haven’t been to a sand sculpting festival, start doing your internet research now to find out when/if a sand sculpting festival is coming to your area. From towering peaks over 10 feet tall to delicately thin, rounded arches and windows, the sand sculptures on Ft. Myers Beach were awesome, unbelievable displays made only of sand. To call these magnificent displays “works of art” is an understatement. Sprawling across the beach, separated by thick plastic ribbon, wire and posts, these fascinating sculptures are rigged to keep onlookers more than an arm’s length away.
Cost to Take a Closer Look at the Sand Sculptures on Ft. Myers Beach
A $5 admission fee gets you through the roped-off areas to get closer to the sculptors’ beautiful ongoing sand sculptures. A blue and white armband is promptly placed around your wrist so you can be let through to the sculptors’ areas to ponder more closely these wondrous works. The ocean was several feet beyond the line of sculptors. And the view was free. What a backdrop for the intricately detailed sculptures.
Sand Sculpting-How It Is Done
Sand sculptors are allowed to use only sand, water and sculpting tools to create their art. Baskets, bins and buckets of carving tools are found near each sculptor. Once the carving is completed, out comes a spray bottle. It holds a rather effective mixture of Elmer’s Glue mixed with water. This concoction is sprayed over the finished sand sculpture to aid the structure in keeping its shape.
According to Andrew Cochrane of the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce (Official Guide of the American Sand Sculpting Championship booklet, 2010), the fine grains of sand on Fort Myers Beach are square-shaped. Because of this shape, the sand and water adhere to make an effective media for the “temporary art” of sand sculpting. These magnificent works last only a day or so before being claimed back by the beach.
2010 Sand Sculpture Entries at 24th Annual American Sand Sculpting Championship–Ft. Myers Beach
One work is a gradually narrowing tower with a delicate face carved near its base. Another is 2 eagles flying toward each other, with each specific feather carved so intricately that you forget it is made of sand. Another thought-provoking sand sculpture shows a face having uneven eyes with clasping hands on the top of the head. If you walk around to the back of the sculpture, you will notice the skull has cracks all over.
Still another sand creation stands tall, a rounded, swirly mound with 2 delicately featured women’s faces carved on 2 sides. Simple, yet beautiful. One sculpture is a seemingly endless series of archways and structures with indented windows. The complex, yet awe-inspiring archways are of all heights and widths, both thin and thick.
Tipping Sand Sculptors at the 24th Annual American Sand Sculpting Championship at Ft. Myers Beach
A line of curious-looking white, covered buckets with white PVC protruding from the tops drew this author’s attention. Displayed beside each bucket was a picture of a partially completed sand sculpture, a snapshot of the sculptor and the sculptor’s brief biography. A small sign said, “quarters only, please.” It took a moment to deduce the buckets were presented for crowds of onlookers to tip the sculptors.
Also present at the 24th Annual American Sand Sculpting Championship at Ft. Myers Beach were several vendors selling ice cream, funnel cakes, mini donuts, jewelry, tie-dye t-shirts, colorful “beachy-looking” painted signs, and seashells arranged strategically amongst the sand sculptors. Onlookers’ attentions were only briefly interrupted to browse the vendors.
Winners of the 24th Annual American Sand Sculpting Championship on Ft. Myers Beach
1st place was Brad Goll’s “Headache.” Goll hails from Austin, TX and counting this title, has won 10 World Championship sand sculpting titles.
2nd place was Dan Belcher’s “Writer’s Block.” Belcher is from St. Louis, MO and is a 13 time world champion sand sculptor.
3rd place was Rusty Croft’s “Divine Discontent.” Croft is from Carmel, CA and has been sculpting with sand for 13 years.
The Peoples’ Choice winner was Michel Lepire’s “American Spirit.” Hailing from Quebec, Canada, Lepire intricately carved eagles and won over the people’s votes.
Ft. Myers News Press, November 15, 2010. Online version.
Official Guide of the American Sand Sculpting Championship, 2010.
Sand Sculpting Festival website.
24th Annual American Sand Sculpting Championship, November 14, 2010, Ft. Myers Beach, Florida.