24 master sand sculptors will vie for awards and audience accolades
Equipped with their own special tools, swirls of fanciful designs in their heads — or scribbled on paper — and the oh-so-necessary pairs of sunglasses, international teams have descended upon Siesta Key in the quest for prizes.
Perhaps the greatest goal of these competitors is to hear the “Ooooohs” and “Aaaahs” of the crowds.
What event has drawn them to Sarasota County? It is the sixth Siesta Key Crystal Classic, which opens on Friday, Nov. 13, and continues through Tuesday, Nov. 17, at Siesta Public Beach. Each day, the event will be open from at 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Admission is $6 per person; children under the age of 4 will be admitted for free. Cash is a requirement, the website points out. An ATM machine will be available on the site, it adds.
In preparation for the competition, 24 master sand sculptors from around the world started working Tuesday on a central “group carve,” which displays logos of event sponsors and will serve as the center stage for the event’s live music and awards presentations, a news release explains.
“Many of the sculptors are now in town helping with set-up, and we’re excited to open on Friday,” said Maria Bankemper, event chair, in the news release. “We’re really grateful to all the sponsors who have helped make this event a reality again this year. They’ve shown a tremendous amount of support for the community.”
Among the highlights of the 2015 Siesta Key Crystal Classic are the following:
- A free amateur sculpting contest from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, with a lunch break between noon and 12:30 p.m. Registration begins at 9 a.m. Awards will be presented at 4 p.m. Learn more about the entry and competition details.
- Judging for master sand sculptor team awards starting at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday; the awards ceremony will start at 3 p.m. that day
- The Kona Brewing party tent at the entrance to the event on Friday, Nov. 13, through Sunday, Nov. 15.
- The Vendor Village with food, drinks and retail items available Friday through Monday.
- Continuous live music from noon on Friday through Sunday afternoon.
- The Quick Sand Battle: Team Daiquiri Deck vs. Team Captain Curt’s from Friday through the finals on Sunday.
- Sculpture viewing with a Mobi-Mat on the sand on Tuesday, Nov. 17, providing an easier walking surface for visitors.
Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) will offer scheduled bus service from Southgate Mall and Sarasota Pavilion to Siesta Beach via Routes 10 and 11 throughout the event, the release adds.
The production of this year’s festival is a partnership between the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce and Mote Marine Laboratory, the release notes. Through this collaboration, “Mote aims to support the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce and generate awareness of its Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program, which coordinates conservation of endangered sea turtles along 35 miles of Sarasota County beaches, including Siesta Key,” the release explains.
The Siesta Key Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Competition was founded in 2010, a result of discussions between master sand sculptor and Siesta Key resident Brian Wigelsworth and representatives of the Siesta Key Chamber, the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, Sarasota County Parks and Recreation, Mote Marine Laboratory and Visit Sarasota County (then called the Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau).
Wigelsworth has told The Sarasota News Leader in the past that Siesta Public Beach is the best place for this type of competition. “We have the finest natural beach sand for sand sculpting in the world,” he said.
While most beaches have lots of shell in their sand, Siesta’s sand is 99.9 percent quartz; its consistency for crafting massive inventive designs has no equal, Wigelsworth maintains.
For more information about the event, visit www.SiestaKeyCrystalClassic.com or call the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce at 349-3800.