Siesta Key Crystal Classic founder Brian Wigelsworth is often asked what happens if it rains during the annual sand-sculpting festival.
The answer is simple.
“We get wet,” he said.
Twelve teams competed in this year’s festival from countries as far away as Russia. While it may seem counterintuitive, water is vital to the sculptors’ process.
“Water is our glue,” Wigelsworth said. “Once the water dries out it pretty much falls down.”
A master sculptor himself, Wigelsworth created the festival seven years ago after traveling to similar competitions around the world. Siesta's sand is 99% quartz crystal, making it extremely fine — and perfect for sculpting.
“I realized our beach is ideal for sand sculpting...This sand is unique in all the world,” Wigelsworth said. “It is the finest sand in the world and it's only found on this three-mile beach.”
The seventh annual Crystal Classic continues at Siesta Key Public Beach through Tuesday, but the main event concluded yesterday with the announcement of the winner of the master sand sculpting competition.
This year, the honor went to Abram Waterman and Walter MacDonald for their sculpture entitled “Sneak Peek.” The piece depicts a large portrait of MacDonald with two children peeking through his eyes to a sand castle in the rear of the sculpture, according to a statement from Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.
“You can look through there and see what I’m thinking,” MacDonald said.
MacDonald said he was participated in the festival for since the beginning, but this is his first time winning the competition.
“...The event is so good that winning isn’t the most important thing, but this is my first time winning first prize, so hallelujah,” MacDonald said.
Although residents have until 5 p.m. tomorrow to enjoy the festival, event staff is already reporting that attendance greatly exceeded that of last year’s event.
Wigelsworth said the Crystal Classic is special in that it's only one of a handful of competitions that utilize their beach's natural sand, as opposed to bringing sand in from quarries or rivers. After the last visitor leaves tomorrow, it will be time to return that sand to the beach.
A front loader will be brought in and the works of art will be knocked down. Although some might think it would be difficult to destroy the masterpieces, Wigelsworth said it's just part of the process.
“We are temporal artists,” Wigelsworth said. “We know our art is temporary. We actually enjoy that aspect of it.”