On Wednesday

It’s time for sandcastles in Parksville!

The competition will be fierce and the resulting sculptures promise to be impressive

The doubles category will see fierce competition among ‘heroes and villains’ at the 15th annual Beachfest kicking off in Parksville this weekend.

An estimated 100,000 people are expected to attend the Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition, with the world’s best sculptors battling it out for a place at the world championships.

“Edith and Wilfred have won before, Peter Vogelaar, a five time singles winner is part of a duo this year and Francesca and Walter are going to be really exciting,” event manager Trish Smith said.

She lavished praise on all seven duos, hailing from everywhere from Parksville and the Kootenays to Quebec, the U.S., Holland and Italy.

Locals even have the duo of David Kaube and Mike Rebar to cheer on as sculptors work within the broad theme of ‘heroes and villains’ this year.

The 14 individual competitors are also coming from all over the world, including Damon Langlois and Fred Dobbs from the Island (Victoria), three from the Lower Mainland, some from various U.S. states and three from Europe.

As a qualifier, the winner in each category in Parksville is sent on to the World Championship of Sand Sculpting the following year in Atlantic City.

The strictly timed and judged sculpting time has been increased to 30 hours this year, with preparations starting a day early.

The competition officially kicked off today at 8 a.m. and continues through the weekend to 2:30 p.m. Sunday, with the winners announced at 5:30 p.m. See Tuesday’s edition of The NEWS for complete results and photos.

The public can only watch through the fence for the first couple days, but after Friday at 2 p.m. they are allowed into the sculpting area to watch the action up close.

The sculpting competition runs through the weekend, but then the results, with a simple water and glue combination applied upon completion, remain up for exhibition until August 16.

This year, organizers are erecting a fancy new souvenir tent, with more memorabilia than ever, and installed an underground pipe system to get water directly to each sculptor.

In previous years, competitors depended on giant bins of water and bucket brigades to keep the specially imported sand the right consistency. Now they each have a hose, with their own shut off, Smith said, pointing out it will be easier for them as well as better for water conservation.

The sand sculpting event is just the centre of a full summer of events in Parksville Community Park, with big complimentary events most weekends including live music Friday and Saturday nights, Art in the Park artisan market and the Lions Kite Festival (July 18-19), the Van Isle Shriners Show and Shine (Aug. 2) and the Kidfest and kid’s sandcastle competition (Aug. 15-16).

Watch The NEWS for more on other events closer to the dates and visit www.parksvillebeachfest.ca for lots more information.

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