The Ultimate List of Sand Sculpting Competitions in the United States

By: The Sand Lovers, Master-Professional Sand Sculptors

The Sand Lovers

We read articles all the time that rate sand sculpting competitions as being the best and well, every article leaves us wondering how they came up with their list or where they got their information from. What determines best?  Is it the number of spectators, maybe it’s the number of sculptures, possibly the number of competing sculptors, could it be the total amount of sculpted sand, or is it the location, or the quality of sand? Trust us, it’s none of these.  The problem is, none of the lists we’ve seen actually list their logic and in every case, miss some very good competitions.

WHAT IS THE BEST
We all know everyone wants to be the best but, if you just focus on the art, every sand sculpting competition is THE BEST! Everyone should go and see these amazing works of art made from just sand and water.  Most competitions today have lots of activities, creating a festival environment yet highlighting the sand sculpting aspect. Each competition is unique and each has its own special flair but, again they are all “THE BEST”. What makes these competitions “THE BEST”?  No question; it’s the Master/Professional Sand sculptors. Being Master/Professional sand sculptors we have competed or worked with many Sand Sculptors from around the globe. Still, after more than a decade in the industry we continue to be awed by their skills, creativity and professionalism.

 
MASTER SCULPTORS
Master/Professional level sand sculptors are professional sculptors and most have 10 plus years of experience, some well over 20 years and many make their living in the sand. It is extremely risky for a respectable competition not to use this level of sculptor; it would be like a major-league baseball team bringing in a high school pitcher. This high school pitcher just might last a few innings but, one thing is for sure there is not a major-league team who would be willing to take the risk. 

Not just anyone can create beautiful works of art from sand and water.
Testament
of this is; there are only about 50 master/professional level sculptors in the U.S.  Sure, there are plenty of people who can sculpt objects from different mediums like clay, wood or foam.

But, to create a sand sculpture reaching some 10 plus feet in the air you must move a minimum ten tons of sand with a shovel (yes, by hand with a shovel) into forms, in layers mixing the sand with water and tamping it with a 25 pound tamper every 4-6 inches. As you can see creating sand sculptures requires physical strength and endurance. Along with physical endurance you need to have an excellent knowledge of the sand and how to pack it. Each competition has different sand and it takes many years of experience to properly evaluate and work with the different sands.
SAND QUALITY
Most everyone thinks the sand used during a competition comes from the beach, when the reality is very few sand sculpting competitions actually use beach sand and most truck in sand and dump it on the beach. They don’t do this to fool anyone; they simply do it to allow for bigger more detailed sculptures. Of the competitions on our list only those hosted on Fort Myers Beach, Siesta Key, Navarre Beach, South Padre Island and Port Aransas use actual beach sand, the rest truck the sand in from local quarries. The point is, all sand is different and it literally takes years to not only learn it but, become comfortable with it.

Before we get to the Competition list, we need to mention there are other sand sculpting events or exhibitions in the United States that also have unbelievable works of art, like Art of Sand in Brevard County Florida. In fact, there are several around the world and if you have the chance you should see these also.

In our sand sculpting business we manage  several events, so we are partial to some however, our intent is to list “The Best” Master/Professional Sand Sculpting Competitions in the United States and in our opinion, that just about every single one. So, lets get to the list......

THE ULTIMATE LIST OF COMPETITIONS
Let’s quantify a sand sculpting competition and our list: The competitions on our list meet the following criteria:

The competitions on our list are located within the United States
2.      
Competitors are Invited Master/Professional Level Sand Sculptors
3.     
Solo and/or Doubles competitions
 4.      At least two years’ history
5.     
Timed Competition over a minimum of three days
6.     
Equal amounts of sand for each competitor in specifically sized plots

Here is the alphabetical Ultimate List of sand sculpting competitions in the United States.
You can find detailed information on each competition and many more by visiting
 

or their individual Event web sites.
 

AMERICAN SAND SCULPTING CHAMPIONSHIPS - FORT MYERS BEACH,  FL (NOVEMBER)
This 10 day competition celebrates its 31st year, owed much of its success to the area's natural resources, which are considered the best in the world for sand sculpting events.  It continues to be the largest sand sculpting event in the state of Florida and one of the largest in the world, growing each year.  Features: Master Solo and Doubles, Advanced Amateur and Amateur Levels. “Florida Sand Sculpting State Championships and Advanced Amateur National Championships” www.fmbsandsculpting.com
  
Sculputre by:  Abe Waterman (middle).
   

BLUE WATER SANDFEST - PORT HURON, MI (JULY)
This competition started in 2013 and was not only the first master level competition in Michigan, it was a huge success. For the 5th year in a row, The Blue Water SandFest will host Michigan's first and only Master Sand sculpting and Advanced Amateur competition/festival. This three-day event is held at the foot of the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, along the beautiful beaches of Lake Huron.  Features: Master Solo, Advanced Amateur and Amateur Levels. “Michigan Sand Sculpting State Championships” www.bluewatersandfest.com

    
Sculpture by: Melineige
Beauregard

HAMPTON BEACH MASTER SAND SCULPTING COMPETITION HAMPTON BEACH, NH (JUNE)
This competition was started seventeen years ago and each year it grows. It’s an invitational only event has grown in leaps and bounds making it the largest Masters competition in the Northeast United States.  Features: Master Solo and Amateur Levels.   http://www.hamptonbeach.org/events/sand-sculpture-event/
  
Sculptures by: Melineige Beauregard (right) and Greg Grady Jr. (left).

INTERNATIONAL SAND ART COMPETITION - KEY WEST, FL (NOVEMBER)
The International Sand Art Competition hosted by the Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, will once again bring extremely talented sculptors to show what they can do on the largest privately-owned beach in Key West. Features: Master Solo Level. http://www.sandartkeywest.com
   

NATIONAL SAND SCULPTING FESTIVAL - REVERE BEACH, MA (JULY)
The National Sand Sculpting Festival is celebrating its 12th year and people from all over New England to see master sand-sculptors from all over the world competing for tens of thousands in prizes. The awards ceremony on Saturday night is capped off with a fireworks extravaganza. Features: Master Solo Level.   www.reverebeachpartnership.com
   

NEPTUNE FESTIVAL - VIRGINA BEACH, VA (SEPTEMBER)
 Watch as grains of sand are turned into masterpieces! The Neptune Festival announces the return of the ever-popular North American Sand Sculpting Championship to the Oceanfront. Features: Master Solo and Doubles and Amateur Levels.  www.neptunefestival.com
 

SANDCASTLE DAYS - SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, TX (OCTOBER)
One of the longest running competitions in the US, celebrates their 29th this year. Amateur and professional sand sculptors from all over the world descend on South Padre Island every year to create beautiful works of art using natural elements of the beach. “Watch as some of the World’s best sculptors turn their sand into your dreams”.   Features: Master Solo and Amateur Levels.  www.sandcastledays.com
 
Sculpture by Paul and Remy Hogard
   
SANDING OVATIONS SAND SCULPTING COMPETITION - TREASURE ISLAND, FL (NOVEMBER)
Treasure Island's First Annual Master Sand Sculpting Competition and Music Festival, a four-day competition of eight sand sculpting masters from throughout North America, who create astonishing works of art using nothing but sand, water and lots of their own imagination.  Features: Master Solo Level.  
www.mytreasureisland.org
   
Sculptures by: Sue McGrew (right), Susanne Ruseler (left).
   

SIESTA KEY CRYSTAL CLASSIC - SARASOTA, FL (NOVEMBER)
The Crystal Classic began in 2010 and has proven to be a great competition hosting 12 doubles teams. This event is the largest Doubles Competition in the U.S. The beautiful white sands of Siesta Key beach allows master sculptors to create absolutely stunning sand sculptures that look like marble.   Features: Master Doubles and Amateur Levels.  www.siestakeycrystalclassic.com
  
Sculpture by: Joris Kivits and Meliniege Beauregard

   
TEXAS SANDFEST - PORT ARANSAS, TX (APRIL)
This event is one of the largest attended in the U.S., maybe the world with enormous attendance. This family event offers a weekend of fun on the beach while viewing magnificent works of sand art.  Features: Master Solo and Doubles and Amateur Levels. www.texassandfest.org
  
Sculputures by: John Gowdy(left) and Joris Kivits(right).
   
US SAND SCULPTING CHALLENGE - SAN DIEGO, CA (SEPTEMBER)
San Diego sand castle competition between 10 professional world masters carving sculptures like San Diegans have never seen.  Features: Master Solo Level.  www.ussandsculpting.com
  
Sculptures by: Kirk Rademaker (left) and Melineige Beauregard (rigfht)
   
   
MILLIONS FOR CHARITIES
Most of the competitions on our list give back to their local community, some raise thousands of dollars each year for charities like; Kiwanis, local boys and girls clubs, wildlife conservation. veterans, first responders and various other non-profits. So, if you pay a little to get into one of the events remember a portion of it is going to one charity or another and probably local.

Along the same lines we should mention “Sand in the City”. Sand in the City is a unique sand sculpting competition that partners with non-profit organizations to develop sand in the City contests, typically in large cities.  These events raise millions each year for various charities.

  

GO AHEAD, PLAY IN THE SAND

If you’re interested in giving sand sculpting a try you have a few options. You can take a lesson from a Master/Professional Sand Sculptor or find a competition that offers free lessons like The Blue Water Sand Fest or Sand Castle Days. Of course, you’re always welcome to jump right into an Amateur Contest. Amateur contests are becoming increasingly popular with new ones launching each year. Most of the competitions on our list host amateur and advanced amateur divisions. To find an amateur contest in your area, check out www.sandsculptingevents.com

No matter which competition you choose to attend, you will find the art to be absolutely “unbelievable” and in most cases, you will leave scratching your head saying “how’d they do that”.

 
ABOUT THE SAND LOVERS
Bill and Marianne Knight own The Sand Lovers, LLC. They are master/professional sand sculptors who create beautiful works of art from piles of sand for any occasion, in any location (indoors or outdoors). They found their love for sand sculpting in 2001 when they began competing in amateur contests. After winning several awards they became professional sculptors in 2006. Combining their vast corporate business experience with sand sculpting provides them the business side of working with clients. Since launching their company they have created hundreds of sand sculptures for many different occasions, celebrations, weddings, corporations, promotions, state fairs, trade shows and much more.

The Sand Lovers has also been very successful managing sand sculpting events. Since their beginning, Bill and Marianne have managed over twenty major sand sculpting events and many smaller events reaching well over 1 million people.

Giving back to local communities is something they believe in. Testament of this is the hundreds of thousands of dollars they have donated to local charities from the events they manage. 

To learn more about Bill and Marianne, The Sand Lovers please visit

www.thesandlovers.com
 www.facebook.com/thesandlovers
 www.twitter.com/thesandlovers


Sculptures by The Sand Lovers