Sand blast: Sculptors create art from sand
The 13th annual SandFest, the largest master sand-sculpting contest in the U.S., begins tomorrow, Friday, April 17.
Now a tradition in Port Aransas, this event, which continues through Sunday, April 19, draws more than 100,000 people, features 26 world-class master sculptors, five classes of competition and an average of 200 amateur entries. The festivities will take place on the beach, between beach markers nine and 14, about one mile south of Horace Caldwell Pier from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
SandFest is a family event with plenty of activities for children, vendors of food and merchandise and free live music throughout. Drawings for prizes and bidding at a silent auction will begin on Friday, when the centerpiece demo sculpture will be completed. SandFest souvenir shops, vendor and food booths and the Youth Tent will also be open then.
Lesson Mountain, where anyone can take free sand-sculpting lessons, remains open on Friday and Saturday afternoons.
A Pet Oasis tent will provide a respite for canine visitors. All pets must be on leashes while anywhere on the beach.
The five divisions of entries include youth, amateur, pro-amateur, duo masters and solo masters. Any entries, excluding
professional, will be accepted until 7 a.m. on Saturday. To avoid standing in line, entry forms can be found at www.texasSandFest.com on the link for each individual contest. Entry fees are listed on the Web forms.
Master sculptors, each working 21 hours and competing for $8,000 in cash and prizes, will begin at 8 a.m. Friday.
Winners in all but the masters divisions will be announced in the entertainment tent between 5 and 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Awards for the masters divisions will be announced on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Proceeds from SandFest will benefit the Port Aransas Community Theater, the Art Center for the Islands, and the Port Aransas Food Pantry.
Bands scheduled to play include South Texas Grassroots, Victims of Circumstance, Todd Dorn, Tammy Miller and others.
The SandFest photo competition has adult and youth divisions, with prizes for both, so don't forget your camera.
To avoid traffic and driving on the beach, catch the free shuttle to SandFest at Sharkey's parking lot, 2600 St. Hwy. 361.
According to Chief of Police Scott Burroughs "Most visitors will find that the shuttles will drop them off closer to the event and will get them there faster than attempting to park on or near the beach."
The shuttle will leave Sharkey's every 30 minutes on Saturday and Sunday beginning at 9 a.m. The last trip back to Sharkey's will leave the beach at 4:30 p.m.
The city trolley is another option. Free public parking is available at Roberts Point Park, and the trolley leaves the park every hour, beginning at 10:21 a.m., and will drop passengers on the beach at Beach Access Rd. 1A, every day. The last trolley back from Access Rd. 1A leaves there at 5:04 p.m. The fare is 25 cents.
Parking on the beach is limited to designated areas around the site. The Port Aransas Police Department has developed a traffic plan to help alleviate congestion.
All beach traffic between Sandcastle Dr. and Beach Access Road 1A will be southbound only.
The best roads to enter the beach for parking are Lantana Drive, Avenue G or Beach Street, then drive south.
General parking will be allowed north of Sandcastle Drive or south of Access Road 1A. Parking will not be allowed on Sandcastle Drive or Access Road 1A.
Accommodations for the handicapped will be in place. Handicapped parking will be at the end of Sandcastle Drive, and a floored tent and walkway will be provided. Golf carts with drivers will be available at no charge.
Weather for the weekend looks like it will be cloudy with temperatures in the low to mid 70s. The greatest chance for showers, according to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will be Friday when there is a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Those chances drop to 30 percent Friday night and Saturday, although the chance increases again to 40 percent Saturday night, according to the NOAA report. By Sunday, the chance for rain will be 20 percent.
A complete guide to SandFest, including a schedule of events and site map, is inserted in local editions of this, the Thursday, April 16, issue of the South Jetty.
The guide will be available free, onsite, during the event.
Information can also be found www. TexasSandFest.com.