A trip to the beach wouldn't be the same without playing in the sand. Whether you want to build the perfect sand castle, make the highest drip-mountain, bury your best friend in sand and give them a mermaid's tail, or try to dig a hole through the earth to China, sand can be a simple medium for extraordinarily imaginative art. While most people think of building a sandcastle as an afternoon pursuit to be left to the tide at the end of the day, others take it far more seriously. A little over 100 years ago, sandcastling became recognized as a sport and a profitable one at that. When a sandcastler named James Taylor built sculptures along the Jersey shore, he asked passers-by to donate money for their viewing, and made a decent wage from his work.
Today, every year brings more exhibitions and competitions between both amateur and professional sand sculptors. Although there are competitions around the world, even in landlocked US states like Nebraska, the World Championships of Sand Sculpture count as one of the most important, and visually stunning, exhibitions every year. Located in the resort town of Harrison Hot Springs in British Columbia, Canada, the championship is a professional competition in which teams of master sculptors compete for $40,000 in prize money for the 13th year in a row. The 2005 contest is scheduled for September 6th through the 11th, and the works will be exhibited until October 14th. Competitors regularly build pieces over 12 feet tall and there have been three progressively higher Guinness World Records set for the tallest sandcastle during previous years. The current holder of this title is a piece entitled "The Christmas Tree" which was built in 1993 and measures 21' 6" or 6.3 meters tall.
The sculptures at the world championships range widely in subjects -- including interpretations of myths and fairy tales, fantastic creatures like dragons and witches, and even the ever-popular castle. While this competition isn't for everyone -- in fact, only professional sand sculptors can enter -- regional competitions abound. If nothing else, all these giant sand creations might inspire a masterpiece in the sandbox or at the local beach, even if the tide or the next child shows just how fleeting some works of art can be.
Copyright 2005© Kachina Domenick
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