The event that put Parksville on the world map is back at the beach this weekend: the annual sandcastle competition.
More than 90,000 people came to Parksville Beach last year to see the Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition and organizers expect to see even more visitors this summer.
Event manager Trish Smith said this year’s theme is “a celebration of music.”
“The theme was decided by the board,” said Smith. “We left it pretty open so the sculptors have room to think outside the box.”
According to a news release issued by Parksville Beach Festival Society the annual competition is an “official qualifier” for the World Championship of Sand Sculpting (WCSS) to be held in 2015.
“This will guarantee the first place soloist and doubles winners an automatic placement in the WCSS,” stated the release. “The second and third place winners will have their names in a pool to be drawn upon as space permits.”
The executive director for the World Championship event, Charlie Beaulieu, will be attending Parksville’s sand sculpting competition and he is the official “sponsors’ logo carver” for the event.
Smith said there is one local entry in the doubles category and the remaining 27 sculptors come from other parts of Canada, the United States, Mexico, the Netherlands and Latvia.
The public can witness the architecture and creativity emerge from the sand while sculpting is still underway. While sculptors start at 8 a.m. Friday morning, the official opening begins at 2 p.m. this Saturday (July 12) with a ribbon cutting just outside the sculpting zone gates. The sculptures must be finished by Sunday (July 13) at 3 p.m. The winners will be announced Sunday evening at 5.30 p.m. The exhibit will remain open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily until Aug. 17. Admission is by donation with a suggested donation of $2.50 per person.
And back by popular demand, Smith said experienced sculptors will be at the beach (in the larger sandpit adjacent to the sculpting zone) to teach community members how to sculpt like a professional this Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
In line with the theme of music, Smith said there will be concerts down at Parksville Beach throughout the summer (July 19 – Aug. 17) on Friday and Saturday evenings from 6.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. Additionally, buskers will play music near the gazebo each afternoon from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The Art in the Park craft and art fair returns July 27. The fourth annual fair will be a one-day event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Parksville Beach displaying a wide array of art and craft styles from all over Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.
And new this year to Beachfest is a competition called Parksville Idol — an event in line with this year’s theme of music. The event will include a people’s choice online voting format to determine the semi-finalists in each age division to perform live, as well as a finals round where the top two in each category will perform just prior to the Quality Foods fireworks on August 9. The event is being organized by the Beachfest society and co-sponsored by the City of Parksville and The Parksville Qualicum Beach News. Competitors can register via the Beachfest website until July 21.
This festival is both a community-wide event and international competition organized by the Parksville Beach Festival Society who assigns 25 per cent of their gate proceeds to community projects and philanthropic groups. Since 1999 the society has donated nearly $350,000 to non-profit organizations and projects. Smith said this event is made possible with the help of more than 200 volunteers from 13 community groups and “significant support” from local businesses through cash and in-kind sponsorships.
For more information and a complete schedule visit www.parksvillebeachfest.ca or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.