This art isn’t painted on a canvass, it’s sculpted in the sand – 150 tons of it, delivered Tuesday to Seaside Heights in anticipation of the borough’s first international sand sculpting competition, which begins Sunday and runs through June 29.
Organizers were busy transforming the open land next to the boardwalk’s Carousel Pavilion into an outdoor art gallery that will play host to the competition and welcome in visitors to see the giant sculptures and vote for the winners in several categories – a unique facet of the Seaside heights competition since most are juried by fellow sculptors. There will also be a children’s sand sculpting and play area.
Sand sculptures at the competition level are massive – often taller than the artists who craft them – and cannot be carved in traditional beach sand. In fact, the particularly fine grade of sand found on Ocean County’s northern barrier island is, ironically, poorly-suited for “construction” work.
“Here in Seaside Heights, they have good sand on the beach – it’s good to put your blanket on in – but us sand sculptors, we actually need a silty sand or dirty sand,” said John Gowdy, part of a husband-wife sculpting team that has helped organize the Seaside Heights competition. “It makes it stick together better and makes us able to go up high.”
“People are used to building little castles on the beach sand and having them fall down,” he said. “There are many tricks and this is one of them.”
The sand, delivered to specification, was carted in by truck from a quarry on Tuesday. The crews left a total of 150 tons of sand, consisting of six, 25-ton loads. Gowdy said the 150 tons will allow for the creation of one extremely large “demonstration” sculpture made by multiple artists in the competition, as well as six “pretty large” sculptures. The children’s area also received a pile of sand.
With the sand delivered, artists will begin getting to work on their sculptures in order to have them ready for the competition, which begins Sunday.
“We’re two and-a-half days on the demonstration pile, then two and-a-half days on the competition pile,” said Gowdy. “So it’s a total of five full days of carving.”
Gowdy promised an “unbelievable” show, which includes sculptors from across North America.
The confirmed competitors are:
- Justin Gordon, Groveland, Massachusetts
- Todd Pangborn, Jamestown, NY
- Matt Long, Staten Island, NY
- Karen Fralich, Ontario, Canada
- Melineige Beauregard, Hawaii
- Chris Guinto, Hawaii
“I’m very fortunate to know the best in the world, and we got ‘em here in Seaside Heights,” Gowdy said.
The show will be held beside the new Carousel Pavilion, at the boardwalk and Sampson Avenue.
Daily tickets can be purchased for $5 per day for those 12 years of age and over and $2.50 for children ages 6-11. Children 5 and younger are free. Visitors can purchase an Event Pass for $10 for ages 12 and up, $5 ages 6-11, which allows unlimited access for all days of the competition. Tickets can be purchased at exit82.com or ticketleap.com.
The award ceremony will take place 7:30 p.m. on June 29 with awards for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, plus the Mayor’s Choice Award. The public can vote for their favorite sculpture and watch the sculpting each day leading up to the award ceremony. The event will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day.