This year, the American SandSculpting Championship in Fort Myers Beach will be the biggest sand-sculpting event in Florida, after recently extending the weeklong competition by three days, said organizer Bill Knight.
But, the change also pushed the affair a week ahead of original plans and out of conflict with the Siesta Key Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Competition, which runs from Nov. 9 through Nov. 12.
Earlier this year, organizers of the SandSculpting Championship said it would be held the same weekend as the Crystal Classic, prompting speculation about competition for attendance. Also, Dan Belcher and Kelly Fralich, the duo who won first place on Siesta Key last year, planned to commit to Fort Myers Beach, where they had competed for the previous two decades, Knight said.
The Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce, one of the primary sponsors of the southern sand event, considered holding two competitions in November, said FMB Chamber President Bud Nocera: “We were able to get into a management agreement with professional management and then merge the two events into one.”
The professional management is a partnership with Pincher’s Crab Shack Restaurant and the Holiday Inn Fort Myers Beach, for which the chamber received $50,000, according an August chamber newsletter. The SandSculpting Committee previously managed the event, which now incorporated festivities all over the island, according to the newsletter.
Sandsculpting competitions are difficult to schedule in the fall, but organizers shoot for the window between the end of Hurricane Season and Thanksgiving weekend, which was only two weeks this year.
“The American SandSculpting Championship has always been held the second week of November,” Knight said. The competition hit the quarter-century mark last year, two years after the inaugural Crystal Classic was held in 2010.
The SandSculpting Championship will return to the Holiday Inn after two years of being held at the Gull Wing Resort, a five-minute walk south. So, there will be little change in the sculpting material.
Knight will be preparing for the Sandsculpting Championship during the previous week, so he won’t be able to attend the Crystal Classic.
Neither event has its list of competitors set, but the date change could make it possible for the two reigning Crystal Classic champs to return to the quartz Siesta sands.