Parksville sand sculpting event begins today

Despite some nerves over the recent poor weather, excitement is building for Parksville’s big summer event, starting today in Community Park.

Last year’s winning soloist Bruce Waugh (from left) works with fellow competitors Brett Stocker and Fred Mallett to prepare their sand piles on Thursday.

Last year’s winning soloist Bruce Waugh (from left) works with fellow competitors Brett Stocker and Fred Mallett to prepare their sand piles on Thursday.

Despite some nerves over the recent poor weather, excitement is building for Parksville’s big summer event, starting today in Community Park.

Though it has taken months of preparation and work, the 12th annual Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition kicks into high gear today (July 15) with the pound-up.

Cameras are encouraged for people who are unfamiliar with the incredible creations that will emerge from the sand over this weekend, leading to the judging on Sunday afternoon.

Parksville council and acting mayor Chris Burger eagerly welcomed all visitors to the city during the competition.

“Our congratulations to the Parksville Beach Festival Society and their many community volunteers on what we are sure will be a most successful event,” Burger said in a press release. “We also applaud the society board for their vision and passion that results in this event getting better and better each year.”

This year there are some new and complementary events to make it more of a festival atmosphere to keep people coming back throughout the four-week viewing period. Read more about those in today’s edition — and upcoming editions — of The News.

There will also be more souvenirs for sale, including the unique Sand Shaper, which the organizers signed an exclusive deal to bring in before they realized they were actually designed by Wilfred Stijger from the Netherlands, already secured as one of this year’s competitors.

Along with Stijger there are world-class competitors coming from three provinces, two U.S. states and five countries including Mexico and Latvia.

They are competing for a guaranteed spot at the world championship in Fort Myers Beach, Florida in November.

Since the current incarnation of the event started in 1999, it has grown to welcome over 99,000 people last year alone and participating charitable groups shared $42,000 from donations at the gate.

The 2011 sand carving competition takes place this weekend and the gated exhibition remains open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily until August 14. Most activities are free but they ask for a suggested donation of $2.50 per person to help keep the event running.

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