2017-04-20 / Front Page

Ready, set, SandFest!

Thousands expected at Port Aransas festival
Vivian Carlson
Staff writer


Among master sculptors working on the towering centerpiece sculpture on the grounds of SandFest on Monday, April 17, were, from left, Todd Pangborn of Jamestown, N.Y.; Wilfred Stijger of Holland; Abe Waterman of Prince Edward Island, Canada; and Morgan Rudloff of Santa Cruz, Calif. Located on the beach in Port Aransas, SandFest starts on Friday, April 21, and ends on Sunday, April 23. 
Staff photo by Dan Parker Among master sculptors working on the towering centerpiece sculpture on the grounds of SandFest on Monday, April 17, were, from left, Todd Pangborn of Jamestown, N.Y.; Wilfred Stijger of Holland; Abe Waterman of Prince Edward Island, Canada; and Morgan Rudloff of Santa Cruz, Calif. Located on the beach in Port Aransas, SandFest starts on Friday, April 21, and ends on Sunday, April 23. Staff photo by Dan Parker Incredible sand sculptures, live music, entertainment, food, beverages and merchandise await the thousands of folks who will visit the beach in Port Aransas this weekend.

The 21st edition of one of the largest sand sculpting competitions in the U.S., Texas SandFest, will take place Friday through Sunday, April 21 through 23.

Gates open at 9 a.m. each day, and festival wristbands are $10 each for a three-day pass. Kids under 12 are admitted free.

The festivities begin on Friday when 18 world-class master sculptors and five advanced amateur sculptors will begin creating their masterpieces for the competition.


SandFest organizers and sculptors were doing all kinds of things to get the festival grounds ready on the beach in Port Aransas this week. Above: Master sculptor Bill Dow helps shape a ‘tribute’ sculpture that commemorates the battles of Goliad and the Alamo. It also salutes all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. Right: Worker Brad Moore helps put up a tent that will provide shade for volunteers working at SandFest. SandFest organizers and sculptors were doing all kinds of things to get the festival grounds ready on the beach in Port Aransas this week. Above: Master sculptor Bill Dow helps shape a ‘tribute’ sculpture that commemorates the battles of Goliad and the Alamo. It also salutes all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. Right: Worker Brad Moore helps put up a tent that will provide shade for volunteers working at SandFest. This year organizers have included the advanced amateur sculptors in the same location as the master sculptors for visitors’ visual enjoyment.

See the schedule on page 6 of the free South Jetty SandFest Guide for the times when the masters and advanced amateurs will be working on their sculptures.

The guide is included in this issue of the South Jetty and on newsstands around town and at various locations the festival site.


Staff photos by Dan Parker Staff photos by Dan Parker Biographies of both the master and the advanced amateur competitors are included in the guide. Return visitors will remember many the sculptors from past SandFests. This year there are some new competitors as well, who will bring their talent and artistry to the competition from across the U.S. and beyond.

The sculptors will work on Friday and Saturday until 5 p.m. On Sunday, the competition will end at 1 p.m.

Winners of the masters and advanced amateurs will be announced on Sunday at 5 p.m. in the entertainment tent.

In addition to the master and advanced amateur sculptors, scores of amateurs will compete both solo and in teams in three divisions on Saturday.

Sign-ups for any of the remaining 75 plots reserved for the amateur competition are on a first-come first-served basis on Friday, April 21, from 3 to 6:30 p.m. at the Volunteer Tent located at the north entrance to SandFest, or on Saturday from 7:30 to 8 a.m. at the south SandFest entrance.

Admission wristbands are included in the cost of registration for participants.

Guppies and youth will compete from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and teens and adults will compete from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The amateur winners will be announced on Saturday at 5 p.m. in the entertainment tent.

See the site map on pages 30 and 31 in the SandFest Guide for the location of the amateur competition area.

Take inspiration from the master sculptors and create your own work of sand-art at Lesson Mountain, located in the amateur area.

Free sand sculpting lessons will be offered all three days of SandFest, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Experienced volunteer sand sculptors will be available to instruct anyone with the desire to learn the art of sand sculpting.

SandFest organizers have made getting to and from the event easy with free off-site parking and a free shuttle.

Free parking will be available at Roberts Point Park near the ferry landing, and RTA (Regional Transportation Authority) buses will provide free transportation to and from the festival site from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. The last bus will leave the site at 7 p.m. each day.

The shuttle from Roberts Point Park will take passengers to the beach at the end of Sandcastle Drive. There, festival goers may walk or take free golf cart rides to the SandFest site.

Free parking also will be available in the empty lot off Beach Access Road 1A at Gracie’s Way, next to Beachmart.

Guests may walk to the beach using the sidewalk on Beach Access Road 1A or catch a shuttle service provided by Bron’s Beach Carts.

A parking and shuttle map is available in the Sand- Fest Guide on Page 8.

Folks with handicap tags/ licenses may park their vehicles at the north end of the festival site near Mile Marker 9 in a marked handicapped parking area.

The City of Port Aransas requires a $12 permit to park on the beach. The permit will be good until the end of 2017.

Beach parking permits may be purchased at entrances to the beach, the chamber of commerce, City Hall, the Family Center IGA, CVS and all Stripes stores in town.

Golf carts with drivers will be available to take those handicapped individuals who cannot walk the festival grounds on a round trip through the site at no charge.

No other golf carts will be allowed in the event area.

Only foot traffic will be allowed within the fenced area on festival grounds.

For those who wish to drive to the festival site, expect a long wait in traffic.

“Downtown Port Aransas traffic typically starts to build before noon on Saturday,” according to a press release from Scott Burroughs, Port Aransas chief of police.

“The historic choke points include the intersection of Avenue G and Alister, 11th Street at Avenue G, Avenue G at the beach and Beach Access Road 1A at the beach.

“SandFest visitors can avoid these areas by entering the beach from Cotter Avenue (stay straight when exiting the ferry), Beach Street (accessible from Alister), or Lantana Drive (accessible from Station Street),” he said.

The beach traffic will be routed one way south from Avenue G to Beach Access Road 1A.

There are two parking lots on the beach near the Sand- Fest site. One is located at the north entrance near Avenue G and the other at the south entrance near Beach Access Road 1A.

Those who use the north and south beach parking areas must purchase a beach parking permit.

A special RV parking area will be located behind the bollards near Sandcastle Drive beginning, Wednesday, April 19. RVs and any other vehicles associated with the RV will need to have a beach parking permit displayed in the windows.

SandFest is all about the fun and family-oriented atmosphere, but certain rules do apply on the beach to ensure safety for all. Specific beach rules may be found on page 20 in the SandFest Guide.

The beach roadway is considered a city street, and all traffic rules apply. That includes golf carts as well as cars. Only people with driver’s licenses may legally operate golf carts on city streets.

Pets are welcome at Sand- Fest, although city ordinances require that they be kept on a leash, and owners must clean up after their pets.

Also, glass containers are not allowed on the beach. Instead, use plastic, paper or foam, and be sure to dispose of trash in the barrels located throughout the festival grounds.

Texas SandFest is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that shares the proceeds from the event with multiple nonprofit Port Aransas and Coastal Bend organizations.

Enjoy all the activities that SandFest has to offer and make plans to attend next year, when SandFest 2018 will be held April 27 through 29.

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