The society behind the Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition & Exhibition has some big new ideas for the near future including more of a festival atmosphere with markets and entertainment.
Parksville Beach Festival Society president Cheryl Dill spoke to Parksville council about some of their successes and big hopes for the future.
Last year, with an additional week, attendance jumped by nearly half to 99,000 people, bringing the 11-year total to 700,000.
Dill stressed the event has a major social and cultural influence on the city with its impact on business and how people see the city.
She pointed out people at an OCP meeting said the sand sculpting event was one of the things they most identified with Parksville.
The society also donates much of the money raised from gate donations to other community groups and projects, totaling $220,000 since 2000.
Dill said they have big goals for the future but they will need the city to play a bigger roll.
They will be continuing as the only Canadian qualifier for the world championships and they hope to attract the highest level of master sculptors from around the world.
Their long term plans include putting money away towards building an amphitheatre, but for this year they had several specific requests.
They asked for permission to use the gazebo as an entertainment stage throughout the four weeks, but stressed they were flexible with the times since they only expect to use it a few hours a day this first year.
They want permission to invite artists to “Art in the Park” tentatively set for July 24 and are hoping to organize an entertainment weekend, hopefully Aug. 5-7 when there isn’t already a complimentary event scheduled.
They will bring in a temporary stage and want permission for extra food vendors and extra community policing and help with traffic.
Their ambitious plans include moving to the bigger sandpit in Community Park and adding a street market day, similar to the weekly Craig Street markets, perhaps in association with that event.
City council will take the requests into consideration and voted in principal to support the festival with $2,500 as sponsors of the entertainment weekend.
The sand sculpting competition, to kick off the four week festival is July 15 to 17 this year, with the sculptures standing until Aug. 14.
Watch www.parksvillebeachfest.ca for more information.