Jonathan Bouchard works on what turned out to be the winning sculpture in the doubles category of the Quality Foods Sand Sculpting Competition. Winners were announced at Parksville Community Park on Sunday, July 15. Bouchard and Jacinthe Trudel’s sculpture is of a sea turtle, biological on one side, and made out of manmade items on the other. — Adam Kveton photo

Parksville Beach Fest wraps up

Attendance down three per cent, people’s choice awards announced

Despite attendance being down about three per cent this year, the Parksville Beach Festival Society president says support for the event is still “really strong.”

This year, total attendance at the Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition was 125,908. Society president Cheryl Dill said attendance is down from last year’s overall attendance of about 130,000 and about 133,000 in 2016.

But the nearly 126,000 people in attendance isn’t insignificant, Dill said.

“If I look back at our (website) of all the visitors, for a number of years we were under 100,000. It was only in 2016 where we jumped up from 104,000 to 133,00 which was really a big jump,” Dill said.

Dill said the event is now on a trend of 125,000 to 130,000 each year.

“We’re kind of on that trend rather than a blip in the whole number of visitors through the gate.”

While Dill said Beach Fest organizers would like attendance to be greater each year, there were elements going against the event, such as the smoke and the economy.

RELATED: Top winners announced for sand sculpting competition

“There’s so many things at play that you’re juggling at the same time that we’re really quite happy with 126,000.”

Throughout the event, people going through the exhibition could vote for their favourite sculptures. More than 120,000 votes were recorded, according to Dill.

For doubles, Jacinthe Trudel and Jonathan Bouchard of Quebec won for their Choose Your Side sculpture. For the solo sculpture, Mac David Enguerrand of Brussels won for the What Did the Fish Eat sculpture.

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“People voted for those two and I think that’s an indication of people who were thinking critically and really enjoyed the beauty of the sculptures themselves,” said Dill.

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NEWS File Photo David Barker and his daughter, Emma, work on a sandcastle at Parksville Community Park on Sunday, July 15. They and many other families tried their hands at sand sculpting as the pros took part in the Quality Foods sand sculpting competition nearby.

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