Sarasotans have long known there is something special about the sand at Siesta Key, whether it’s the perfect white color, the cool-to-the-touch feel, or the soft powdery texture. And on Saturday there was something else special about it: Sand sculptors from around the region gathered for the 38th annual Siesta Key Sand Sculpture Contest. It’s a popular event every year, and by 9:30 Saturday morning the parking lots were already overflowing. The crowds wandered the rows of displays, took a break to dive in the water or stroll the beach, then came back to check on the progress.
The sculptors ranged from professionals with tool belts and chisels to amateurs with buckets and shovels. Teens and young kids joined the fun, too, with designated sections just for them. "My whole family’s doing it this year," said Sarasota’s Peter Simms. "Just don’t tell anyone that my 14 year-old’s castle is better than mine."
Even before the judging began, most visitors had picked a favorite, and they had plenty of sculptures to choose from. Of course there were sand castles—though there was nothing traditional about them, with their elegant archways and meticulously etched patterns. Then there was the unexpected: a reclining sunbather beside an ominous shark fin, a mischievous fish in a barrel, and a giant hot dog complete with leaves masquerading as relish. "You’ve got to love the hot dog," said Mike Harvin of Bradenton as he voted for his favorite. "I mean, those castles are impressive, but a hot dog? It doesn’t get any better than that."
Check out these works in progress:
…and these final products: