With all of the fun and entertainment that has now become part of the nearby Revere Beach National Sandsculpting Festival, one thing that can tend to get lost in the pre-festival publicity is the actual Sandsculpting.
However, once the show gets on the road July 17th – marking the Festival’s 10th Anniversary – it will be rather hard to miss the biggest and best field of carving competitors Revere Beach has ever seen.
In fact, some are touting the 15-person field as the largest competition on the East Coast.
“Last year we only had 10 competitors and this year we’ll have 15 sculptors in the field,” said Amanda Gourgue, executive director of the Revere Beach Partnership. “It has been exciting to add sculptors and this being our 10th anniversary, we wanted to go big. It is the most that the Revere Beach festival has ever had. We already have the most fans and now we want to have the most sculptors.”
This year, the larger field will be spread out over a larger area, giving sculptors and spectators more room to move about – and hopefully alleviating the jam-packed crowds (sometimes 10 people deep) during the weekend days.
There are six new sculptors in the competition and nine sculptors that are returning for another shot at the Revere title – a prize that is becoming more and more coveted worldwide amongst the small sand sculpting community.
Of the six new competitors, three are from outside of the U.S. – with two from Holland and one from Latvia.
One of the newest competitors is Rusty Croft of California, who starred for two years on the Travel Channel show ‘Sand Masters.’ Alongside fellow Revere Beach returning competitors Sue McGrew (Tacoma, WA) and Chris Guinto (Key West), Croft starred in 25 episodes of the reality TV show detailing the life of a professional sand sculptor.
He will be joined by one of the oldest competitors on the circuit (and perhaps the sculptor with the best name), 71-year-old Amazin’ Walter McDonald of S. Padre Island, TX. McDonald has been carving sand since the early 1980s and taught his craft to many of those who now compete against him on the professional circuit. With a look that appears to be a cross between ZZ Top and the Grateful Dead, McDonald is likely to be a character and a fan favorite – much as Acapulco, Mexico native Ben Probanza has been over the last two years.
The new sculptors will be ready to do battle with three-time champion Jonathan ‘Jobi’ Bouchard (Montreal), who has proven to be one of the best sculptors in the field year after year. Jobi will be shooting for an unprecedented fourth title in a row this year.
The entire field of sculptors will include:
•Dan Doubleday (Treasure Island, FL)
•Dan Belcher (St. Louis)
•Croft (Carmel, CA) *new sculptor
•Justin Gordon (Groveland, MA)
•Chris Guinto (Key West)
•Marianne Guinto (Key West) *new sculptor
•Sandis Kondrats (Latvia) *new sculptor
•Amazin’ Walter McDonald (S. Padre Island, TX) *new sculptor
•Sue McGrew (Tacoma, WA)
•Benjamin Probanza (Acapulco, Mexico)
•Wilfred Stijger (Holland) *new sculptor
•Steve Topazio (Tiverton, RI)
•Edith van de Wetering (Holland) *new sculptor
•Lucinda Wierenga (S. Padre Island, TX)
Preparations for the competition will begin today, July 10th, as competition directors Meredith Corson and Dan Doubleday of Sanding Ovations return to the Beach to begin putting things in order. Sanding Ovations has successfully run the competition and centerpiece sculpture for several years, and they have developed quite a love for Revere Beach and the more than 500,000 fans that descend upon the area every year.
Some 350 tons of special carving sand from New Hampshire will arrive on the Beach Friday, July 12th, and sculptors will begin working on the always-popular centerpiece sculpture Saturday, July 13th.
This year, organizers aren’t yet giving any kind of hints as to what the centerpiece theme might be, though it will reflect what is happening in Revere and the surrounding areas.
“To see this year’s sculpture theme, you will have to come down to the Beach,” said Gourgue.
After four days of carving out several hundred tons of sand, competitors will begin working on their allotment of 12 tons of sand Wednesday, July 17th. This year, competitors will have four days to work on their masterpieces, with the competition winding down at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
As always, the sculptors will judge each other’s work, but not their own, using the Sanding Ovations Report Card System. They will be judging each other on the following six categories: Overall impact/Wow factor, Quality of Carving, Usage of Sand, Degree of Difficulty, Originality and Artistic Impression. There will also be a People’s Choice Award so that Festival participants have a say in which creation is their favorite.
Throughout the competition, there will also be children sand sculpting lessons that start on Wednesday, July 17th and run through Saturday, July 20th. Each day the lessons are at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Interested participants need to sign up 30 minutes prior to class time and it is first come, first serve.
Lessons will be taught this year by Sandi ‘Castle’ Stirling and Raymond Poirier – both of Dundas, Ontario.
Gourgue said the competition part of the Festival is taking a step up this year and really becoming a signature event for those who compete on the professional circuit.
“I know the people who have done this competition in the past do keep their calendar clear for this Festival,” said Gourgue. “When they come once, they usually return and Revere Beach has developed a strong reputation out there, we’re told. I think it is because we’re always trying to improve things. This year we’re taking our Festival to a new level and it will set a precedent for the future. Going forward, we’ll look at whether we add two new sculptors every year or one new sculptor. It really gives us momentum.”
She also said not to forget the events surrounding the fun in the sand.
“The whole thing is going to be above and beyond,” she said. “It will be like three festivals in one. There will be the sand sculpting, entertainment non-stop all weekend long and then the extensive amount of food trucks. We’re going to have more food trucks than most Food Truck Festivals.”
For more information on the Revere Beach National Sand Sculpting Festival, visit www.NationalSandSculptingFestival.com.