It was the 47th annual Amateur Sand Sculpture Contest.
Toes dug into the sand, sweat dripped from brows and visitors stood with mouths agape as Darth Vader’s helmet, the Eiffel Tower and food that looked good enough to eat sprung to life on Siesta Beach.
Twenty-one artists took their tools and creativity to the sand to compete in the 47th annual Amateur Sand Sculpture Contest.
Competitors were placed in four categories spanning a variety of age groups and team sizes.
One of the artists, 15-year-old Alyssa Loo, drew her inspiration from her favorite breakfast. Her creation, “Sunny Side
Up,” featured eggs, bacon and pancakes topped with melting butter.
“This is my absolute favorite meal,” Loo said. “I love pancakes and bacon.”
While the artist finished second in her category, she said sand sculpting is purely something she does for fun.
Like Loo, Chip Perling started sand sculpting at a young age. Now, at 57, Perling enjoys the camaraderie of competitions.
Neither Perling's lack of a plan for his sculpture nor the competition’s four-hour time limit proved to be an issue as he received second place in his category.
“I came with no idea what I was going to do and just let the sand tell me what it wanted to be,” Perling said.
After creating his sculpture “Who Do VooDoo,” Perling began helping the children around him. He showed them how to build forms and use his tools properly.
“My favorite part is meeting the people and working with the kids,” Perling said. “I bring all my tools out to competition that way if any kids need them I can lend a hand.”
But the kids weren’t the only ones who needed a helping hand. Family members Lisa Karr and Amanda and Jeremy Lamar decided to try their hand at sand sculpting on a whim.
“We came out here with two garbage cans, a watering can and a shovel,” Karr said. “We didn’t realize how hard it would be.”
After borrowing some tools and figuring out how to get water to their station, the trio began making some progress, though their sculpture didn’t quite turn out as planned.
“We are calling it ‘Leaning Castle,’” Amanda Lamar said with a laugh. “At least we’re honest. We do have to thank the Romans for the floor plan, though.”
While the family didn’t place, they all said they hope to hone their skills and make the competition a family tradition, something another group of competitors was familiar with.
Sisters Holly Arey and Nicole Goosney “began sand sculpting in diapers” because of their dad, Ricky Arey. To them, it’s a way to connect as a family.
The trio, plus Alex Espinosa, decided to create “Ralph Wrecks the Beach” because of the their love for the Disney movie “Wreck it Ralph.”
When asked why they continue to compete, the sisters gave different answers.
“It’s a family tradition, and something we like to do,” Holly Arey said.
“Because our dad is crazy about it,” Nicole Goosney said with a smile.
No matter the reason, the family hopes that Goosney’s 6-year-old son will soon pick up the trade and create a multi-generational tradition.