If you go
Sand Bash Festival
When: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. today through Sunday
Where: Behind the Holiday Inn Fort Myers Beach, 6890 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach
Admission: $8 for adults, $5 for ages 6-17 and seniors, free for ages 5 and younger.
FORT MYERS BEACH — Most beachgoers like to lie on the sand and, on occasion, build a small sand castle or two.
At the Sand Bash on Fort Myers Beach, they can sculpt sand, take pictures with it and, even, walk under it. As for the sand castles, they will ascend over 15 feet tall.
Today through Sunday, master sand sculptors from around the world will compete among the public from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m at the inaugural Sand Bash Festival located behind the Holiday Inn on the south end of Fort Myers Beach. Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 6 to 17 and seniors over 55. Those younger than 5 are free.
“This will show people the amazing side of what sculptors can make out of a pile of sand,” said Bill Knight, the co-owner of SandLubbers, a professional sand sculpting company and co-organizer of the event.
An expected crowd of more than 50,000 will witness 24 sculptors, building works of art on the beach. Eighteen of those will be vying for a $10,000 cash prize given out on Sunday at 1 p.m. Competitors will have about 27 hours over the course of four days to complete their creations. Sculptures can reach more than 15 feet as long as they stay within each 400 square foot plot. Patrons can stand inches from the sand pieces and interact with builders as they work.
“This is foremost, a performance art,” said Knight who has been a master sculptor since 2006. “We love talking to the public and answering their questions.”
In attendance, will be world-renowned sculptor Walter McDonald, who is also known as “Amazin Walter.” McDonald is an icon in the sand building industry and created a giant castle for Oprah Winfrey, which was featured on the cover of O Magazine along with the television legend.
“There are some really great performance artists in attendance,” said Jason Camp, the event manager of the festival. “To see what they can create is really impressive.”
Exactly what sculptors will be building is a guarded secret. Although Knight was mum about competition entries, he did reveal some details of the four exhibition sculptures, which will be available for photo opportunities. Patrons can get their pictures taken as one of the three Charlie’s Angels made entirely out of sand. Each exhibit will have a sand banner, which a team of sculptors can customize for every photo. He also hinted that one sculpture would allow festivalgoers to walk under it.
“These are going to be some can’t miss sculptures,” said Knight, an 11-time medalist. “They’ll be unique photo opportunities.”
For those who want to try their hand in building, the festival will have
20-minute demonstrations led by some of the master sculptors. The demos are open to all ages and will take place throughout the event.
“This will give people a very good idea of how a sculpture is created at this level,” Knight said. “
Adults will not want to miss the sand built Parrot Bar, serving a full menu of liquor, beer and wine. Kids will have access to a large play area with water slides and bounce houses for an additional $10.
“Most sand sculpting events focus on the competition,” Camp said. “We wanted to create an atmosphere where the entire family can enjoy and do many things.
In addition to the main building competition, sculptors will participate in 10-minute speed sculpting contests. There will also be live bands playing each day as well as 50 vendors, selling retail items and food. Parking is free on Lover’s Key and a shuttle is available.
“Sand Bash is going to be something people here have never seen before,” Knight said. “You can’t appreciate it until you experience these masterpieces.”