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80,000 people fill in People's Choice award ballots for Parksville sandcastles

The Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition came to a close this past weekend and the People’s Choice awards were announced. Above is the winner in the duo competition, Stairway to Heaven, by Brett Stocker, of Los Cabos, Mexico and Walter McDonald of San Padre Island, Texas. - PETER McCULLY PHOTO
The Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition came to a close this past weekend and the People’s Choice awards were announced. Above is the winner in the duo competition, Stairway to Heaven, by Brett Stocker, of Los Cabos, Mexico and Walter McDonald of San Padre Island, Texas.
— image credit: PETER McCULLY PHOTO

After five weeks of sandcastle mania, the magnificent sculptures lighting up Parksville Beach will be bulldozed Tuesday morning, marking the end of another season of sandcastles.

The Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition came to a close  after operating from July 12 to August 17.

Event manager Trish Smith said the summer was nothing short of "fabulous."

Smith said 90,110 people dropped by Parksville Beach to see the unique sculptures and take in the festivities — many visiting from as far away as Japan and Europe.

"We hosted a lot of people from overseas," Smith said, adding she noticed less American visitors this season. The entrance to the sandcastles included a world map for people to mark their respective hometowns — by the end of the event it was spotted with colourful dots all around the world.

The sandcastle competition consisted of 29 competitors who had just 24 hours over three days to convert 324 yards of sand into masterpieces.

This year's theme — a celebration of music — inspired sculptors to design sandcastles brimming with musical memorabilia including giant treble clefs, larger than life instruments, a 3D iPad and a sold-out rock concert.

The people's choice award, which was voted on by entrants throughout the summer, was announced Sunday evening, the last night of the event. The people's choice winner for doubles was awarded to Brett Stocker, of Los Cabos, Mexico and Walter McDonald, San Padre Island, Texas for their sculpture entitled "Stairway to Heaven." The people's choice winner for solos was awarded to Justin Gordon of Groveland, Massachusetts for his sculpture entitled "Nature's Song."

More than 80,000 votes were cast by visitors to the exhibition, said Smith. In the regular competition the first place winner for doubles was awarded to father-daughter duo Guy and Melineige Beauregard, of Quebec, for their "Fly Me To The Moon" sculpture. In the solo category first place was awarded to Helena Bangert, of Holland, for her "Cosmic Dancer" sculpture. Both first place winners also won the competitor's choice awards for their respective categories.

Aside from the sandcastle competition, Smith said the Parksville Beach Festival Society offered something new this year — Parksville Idol. She said the singing competition was "very successful" and had 17 competitors vying for first place.

She said the event was done in conjunction with the theme of music.

Smith said that while nothing has been confirmed yet, the society is considering hosting the world championship next year. She said the board was approached with the idea last year and has been toying with the idea ever since.

"We're open to the idea," said Smith, but added that until a formal proposal is received the board can't make an actual decision. "We won't know until we can get a sense of cost, budget and sponsorship — we probably won't have a firm decision until November."

The world championship has been hosted in Atlantic City the last few years and would change the face of the annual sandcastle competition in Parksville. Smith said the idea will be discussed by the board and plans will be announced this fall.

The festival is both a community-wide event and international competition organized by the Parksville Beach Festival Society who assigns 25 per cent of their gate proceeds to community projects and philanthropic groups. Since 1999 the society has donated nearly $350,000 to non-profit organizations and projects. Smith said this event is made possible with the help of more than 200 volunteers from 13 community groups and “significant support” from local businesses through cash and in-kind sponsorships.

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