Sand pound up set to begin

Sand sculpting competition to turn the beach into fine, though gritty art

Sand orca was one of the bemusing entries in the 2011 sculpting competition.

Sand orca was one of the bemusing entries in the 2011 sculpting competition.

The weather’s heating up just in time for Parksville’s premier summer event.

Officially the 13th annual Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition, organizers will be marking 30 years of sandcastles on Parksville Bay.

Along with some of the best sand sculpting in the world, at the only official Canadian qualifier for the world championships, this weekend marks the beginning of a busy five weeks of other beach-related activities.

The pound up — with special sand being brought in — begins Friday and the official competition begins Saturday morning. The sculpture area will, open to the public at 2 p.m.

The work can be seen through the fence before the opening, then people get a chance to watch the sand artists from across the continent, Spain and Australia up close until the competition closes Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m.

After the work stops the exhibition begins and the sculptures get a layer of glue once they’re complete that help them stand throughout what organizers are calling “35 days of free entertainment.”

Along with the professional competition on the opening weekend, there will be a first ever community sand-sculpture to mark the 30th anniversary. Sponsored by the Coastal Community Credit Union there will be experts on hand to help the public in the larger adjacent sand pit throughout the weekend.

“We want to inspire new sculptors and this is a fun way to learn. Everyone is welcome to experience sculpting with the pros on July 14 and 15,” said society president Cheryl Dill.

There is musical entertainment every day from the gazebo and there are complimentary events on many weekends.

The second weekend (July 21 & 22) brings the Parksville Lions International Kite Festival to the big field in Community Park from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days with food concessions, vendors and all manor of kite building and flying displays and tips along with the ever popular Teddy bear drop.

That is followed on July 28 and 29 by the second annual Artisans at the Beach market. Expanded to two days after last year’s success, artisans will be displaying and working on their wares from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. with a focus on local talent plus vendors from all over the Island.

Sunday, August 5 brings the massive Oceanside Overdrive Carshow to the big field and there’s an ‘80s Beach Party dance from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 11 with prizes for the best outfits and star look-a-likes.

Finally the sand sculpture exhibition wraps on the weekend of August 18-19 with the Quality Foods Fire Works display at dusk Saturday night and Kidfest and the Quality Foods Children’s Sandcastle Competition.

They also encourage people to check out activities like Tuesday and Wednesday evening beach volleyball, the downtown Summer By the Sea Street Market on Craig Street Tuesday evenings and other features of the park like the Lions’ Ventureland children’s and water park, sports facilities and the famous beach itself.

Organizers are expecting attendance to top 100,000 people through the gates this year and they point out the suggested donation of $2.50 not only keeps the exhibition going but benefits the community groups that help staff the gates.

For more information or to register for the artisan market check www.parksvillebeachfest.ca.