Ruby Seaberg, left, and Jake Copp dance to the rock tunes of Curds&Whey during the Parksville Beach Festival finale concert on Saturday, Aug. 19. — Adam Kveton Photo

Canada? Yes. 150? Not quite

Parksville BeachFest attendance falls just shy of record as Canadian sculptors claim honours

The Parksville Beach Festival Society did not reach its goal of 150,000 spectators in Canada’s 150th anniversary season, but the 2017 Quality Foods Sand Sculpting exhibition wrapped up its five-week run Sunday with the second-highest turnout in the event’s history.

The exhibition, which began July 14 with the theme Canada One-Five-O,, drew 130,149 visitors. That was just two per cent off the all-time record of 133,430 set in 2016, but was well ahead of the third-highest turnout and left organizers pleased with the results.

“The warm, sunny weather, the appeal of the sculpting and the strong economy have all contributed to such tremendous results,” said Cheryl Dill, president of the Parksville Beach Festival Society. “We’ve noted very positive feedback about the quality of the sculpting from local residents and visitors at the gate and through social media. The affordability of the activities helps to attract so many.”

Additional events that took place during the festival included ten free outdoor concerts, an artisan market and, for the first time on closing weekend, an evening viewing of the sculptures professionally illuminated with colourful lighting.

“We were thrilled with how well the ‘light up’ of the sculptures was received by the public on Saturday evening,” said Wendy Sears, event manager for the festival. “It is a wonderful complement to the Quality Foods Festival of Lights and we are excited to continue with this tradition in the future.”

Sand sculpting awards were distributed July 16, at the close of sculping, by the Beach Festival Society. But over the past five weeks, visitors had the opportunity to vote on their favorite sculptures. More than 124,000 votes were recorded for the People’s Choice awards.

“These are highly coveted awards amongst the master sculptors in our competition,” said Dill. “While people had many favorites, the winners were very clear and they are all Canadian sculptors, which is wonderful given our theme.”

The results are as follow:

Doubles: Guy-Olivier Deveau, Quebec; and Damon Langlois, Victoria: “Little Iron Horse.”

Solo: Peter Vogelaar; Winlaw, B.C.: “The Last Spike.”

The Parksville Beach Festival Society assigns 25 per cent of its gate proceeds to community projects and philanthropic groups, in addition to contributing to the maintenance and development of the Community Park.

Since 1999, the Society has donated $500,000 to non-profit organizations and community projects, which included construction of the park gazebo and community signs. A year ago the society followed up its record attendance by awarding 60,000 to 19 groups that served as Beach Festival volunteers. For 2017, The Society aims to donate to several not-for-profit organizations which served as gate greeters at the entrance to the sand sculpting site during the public exhibition. The exact donation will be determined once bookkeeping is completed this fall, Dill said in a written release.

— NEWS Staff and Beach Festival Society submission

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Spectators take in the annual Quality Foods Festival of Lights fireworks show at the close of the Parksville Beach Festival at Community Park Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. — Jeff Westnedge photo