It’s that time of the year again, when Siesta Key Public Beach turns into an art gallery as sand sculptors from around the world converge on the island for the annual Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce Crystal Classic.
The festival, now in its seventh year, will include expanded children’s programming when it begins Friday.
The “Learning Curve” tent will feature crafts and lessons on the origins of Siesta Key sand. Children will also get to examine different sand samples from around the world.
Chamber Executive Director Ann Frescura says there will also be a sand area dedicated to the festival’s smaller visitors.
“I love the children’s aspect,” Frescura said. “Any time you can introduce the arts to children is very exciting.”
The festival will feature artists from across the United States and from as far away as Bulgaria. The 12 master sculpting teams will begin competing at 9 a.m. Friday and are scheduled to finish at noon Sunday.
Members of the public will be able to cast paper ballots for their favorite creations until 5 p.m. Tuesday.
The official Crystal Classic website, siestakeycrystalclassic.com, says Tuesday is also the best day for handicapped-accessible viewing.
As well as the master sculpting, the festival will feature an amateur sculpting competition from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Sign-ups for the amateur competition will begin at 9 a.m.
Frescura said the program’s variety will offer festivalgoers an enjoyable experience.
“I think that it’s a good mix,” Frescura said. “I think it will lend itself to a really outstanding and competitive competition.”
This is Frescura’s first year with the Siesta chamber, and though she’s seen photos from the Crystal Classic, this will also be her first time attending.
“I’m so excited to see it firsthand, standing next to something in person,” Frescura said.