Beachfest this weekend in Parksville

The Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition is the only Canadian qualifier for world championships in Atlantic City

It’s opening weekend for the Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition. On Saturday and Sunday

It’s opening weekend for the Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition. On Saturday and Sunday

Parksville’s big beach weekend has arrived and by the time you read this the sand is being piled for sculpting.

More than 90,000 people passed through the gates for an up-close look at the Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition last year, and organizers hope for even more this summer.

While this year’s “fairy tale”-themed sculptures will be up for the public’s enjoyment until August 18, this weekend, people get a chance to see the world-class sand artists in action.

As the only Canadian qualifier for the world championships in Atlantic City, there is a contingent of locals, but also competitors from across the continent and as far as Mexico, the Netherlands and Latvia. And as the master sculptors compete for the worlds and big cash prizes, the public can develop their skills with expert guidance.

Sponsored by the Coastal Community Credit Union, anyone can stop by the volleyball sand court Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for 10 minute lessons at the top and bottom of the hour, ask questions and try their hand at the sand arts.

This is also great way for people to prepare for the new Aug. 3 Big O Tires’ amateur competition out on the actual beach.

Meanwhile the main sculpting activity starts today with the set-up, delivery of the specially sifted sand, and the arrival of the sculptors to plan and prep their plots.

The big pound-up starts bright and early Friday as the sculptors build and fill wood forums to create the rough shapes they will then spend two days carefully chiselling down to a fine finish.

The competition officially starts with a horn at 7:30 a.m. Saturday and the times and rules are strict with a half hour lunch break and a lot of activity around the sight.

This year there are 15 soloists and instead of the teams there are seven duos competing.

People can watch through the fence for the morning until the gates open for a suggested $2.50 donation at 2 p.m. once they are down to some of the more detailed work using only sand, hand tools and water.

The judging starts when the sculpting is cut off at 3 p.m. Sunday and the winners, including audience favourite, will be announced at 5:30 p.m. Once complete the sculptures are sprayed with a simple glue-water combination to help them survive the five week exhibition.

Other Beachfest related events:

The Artisans at the Beach craft and art fair returns July 27 and 28 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. The third annual fair has 75 spaces with juried displays to ensure a wide array of art and craft styles from all over Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.

Along with a Summer Concert Series running 7 to 9 p.m. every Friday and Saturday night, other complimentary events include the Lions International Kite Festival (July 20-21), the Oceanside Overdrive Car Show (Aug. 4), KidFest and the Quality Foods children’s sandcastle competition (Aug. 17-18) and the Summer by the Sea Street Market every Tuesday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. up the hill on Craig Street.

For more information and a complete schedule visit www. or e-mail