The traffic snaking along Stickney Point Road, on down to Beach Road, was a testament Sunday to the popularity of the second Siesta Key Crystal Classic Master Sandsculpting Competition.
Once visitors arrived at the No. 1 beach in America, they lined up again to pay the $5 admission fee to get close-up looks at the 12 creations by internationally known master sandsculptors. Children and adults alike gazed at the intricate details — from the wide eyes of the schoolgirl the night before classes begin, in “Back to School Nightmare,” by John Gowdy and Brad Coll — to those big teeth on the big sea creature called “Something Fishy,” by Chris Guinto and Rusty Croft.
The winner of the top, $5,000 prize, as well as the Sculptors’ Choice and the People’s Choice awards was “Nightmares,” by Dan Belcher and Karen Fralich. As one bystander put it while surveying that entry: “Awesome! The detail. The teeth on that horse — man!”
“Something Fishy” took second place, winning $4,000, and the Mote Marine award, worth $2,000. “Back to School Nightmare” won the third-place award of $3,000.
Hayley Rutger, spokeswoman for Mote Marine, said Monday that she knew thousands of people had attended the event Nov. 10-14, but she was not certain when the final attendance figure would be ready. Proceeds will go to Mote’s sea turtle program.
Kevin Cooper, executive director of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, said Sunday he believed this second edition of the event had surpassed the 60,000 attendance figure for 2010.
“Today, it’s crazy,” he said of the crowd as he headed out to the beach with another golf-cart load of ice.
Siesta master sandsculptor Brian Wigelsworth, who came up with the idea of the Crystal Classic, said windy, cooler weather Nov. 10 and Nov. 11 had kept the crowds smaller those days, and that wind had erased some of the sponsor signs in the group carve, necessitating their being redone.
Nonetheless, Wigelsworth said, “It’s going very well.”
The artists themselves and the judges, he added, seemed to be having an especially good time.
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