Down and dirty
Every year, parents take their children to SandFest's Lesson Mountain, expecting simply to stand back and watch as their kids learn from professionals how to sculpt sand.
But parents often find that they cannot resist getting their hands dirty too.
"I think they think of the kids enjoying it, but they don't think they will, but they do, because it's just so interesting," said Dee McElroy, event director with SandFest. "They see these things as they're being created, and they just have to get their hands in there too."
Lesson Mountain will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 24, near Marker 10 on the beach in Port Aransas. The free event kicks off the 11th annual SandFest, scheduled for March 30-April 1 between mile markers 8 and 11 on the beach in Port Aransas. SandFest draws thousands of revelers to view the work of competing amateur and expert sand sculptors at the beach each year.
Three master sand sculptors - Steve Zarych of Port Aransas, and Chip Cooper and Mark Landrum of Corpus Christi - will provide lessons at Lesson Mountain this year.
Lesson Mountain mostly attracts kids, but a lot of adults take part too. It's a great family activity, said Landrum, an accountant who also works (plays?) as a professional sand sculptor.
"It sounds corny, but (sand sculpting) gives families a memory that will last a lifetime," Landrum said. "It's the day they learned how to sculpt from sand. It brings a whole family together."
Lesson Mountain grows every year, McElroy said.
"It's almost a stand-alone event, it's so popular," McElroy said. "On the site plan, it keeps taking over more and more space. We'll have 50 people at one time working. In the course of three days, it's hundreds."
Participants in Lesson Mountain should bring a bucket, shovel, spoon or carving tool and sunscreen. The event is sponsored by Coastline Adventures.
Each year, SandFest is graced by a towering, 250-ton sand centerpiece. This year, it will be carved by more than 25 master sand sculptors.
Before the sculptors get to work on the centerpiece, the huge pile of sand must be stabilized. That's done by watering down and tamping and stomping it in an event that has become known as the "Stomp."
SandFest needs several volunteers for the Stomp, which will take place near Marker 9 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 24. SandFest also is seeking volunteers to help set up the event grounds.
Volunteers may contact Elaine Morris at 749-7137 or McElroy at 361-949-9531.