Sand-sculpting winners declared during eighth annual Siesta Key Crystal Classic

People’s Choice Award goes to Moonlight Over the Pond

Moonlight Over the Pond is the winner of the People’s Choice Award for 2017. Photo courtesy Crystal Classic

International sand-sculpting champions have been declared for the eighth annual Siesta Key Crystal Classic International Sand Sculpting Festival, which drew thousands of people to Siesta Public Beach, organizers have reported.

Awards were presented on Nov. 12 to winning teams of two master sand sculptors each, who competed for total prize winnings of $9,000, a news release explains.

The Crystal Classic drew 12 teams from countries around the world: South Korea, Canada, Italy, the Czech Republic, Singapore, Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Portugal. Competitors from several states also participated, with California, Florida, Missouri, New York, Rhode Island and Texas represented, the release notes.

Karen Fralich of Canada and Dan Belcher of the U.S. won first prize ($3,000) for Winter is Coming.

Other winners are as follows:
• Second place ($2,500): Water Dream by Helena Bangart of The Netherlands and Fergus Mulvany of Ireland and Holland.
• Third place ($1,000): Reclamation by Steve Topazio and Ron MacDonald, both of the United States.
• Sculptors’ Choice ($1,500): Catalytic Thinking by Damon Langlois of Canada and Joris Kivits of The Netherlands.
• People’s Choice: ($1,000): Moonlight Over the Pond by John Gowdy and JooHeng Tan.

First place winners for 2017 are Karen Fralich of Canada and Dan Belcher for Winter Is Coming. Photo courtesy Crystal Classic

The public was able to vote on the sculptures through Nov. 13, the release noted. The People’s Choice Award winner was announced at

“Once again, the sand sculptors truly wowed us with their creativity and detailed craftsmanship, and the amazing turnout has shown us that people love this event and love Siesta Beach,” said Maria Bankemper, event chair, in the release. “Being able to light the sculptures at night brought the festival to another level,” she added, referring to the later hours and light shows on Friday and Saturday nights.

Sculptor’s Choice winner is Catalytic Thinking by Damon Langlois of Canada and Joris Kivits of The Netherlands.Photo courtesy Crystal Classic

“Every year the festival just gets bigger and better,” noted Brian Wigelsworth, a master sculptor who helped found the event and who serves as its sand coordinator. “Staying open in the evenings and lighting the sculptures was a huge success and one that we expect to bring back next year,” he said in the release.