Miss the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition just down the Strand?
The U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge will move the beach downtown this weekend, bringing more than 250 tons of sand to Broadway Pier in San Diego.
Teams and individuals from Imperial Beach and San Diego, and as far away as Ireland, the Netherlands and Italy will compete this Labor Day weekend.
About a dozen teams or individuals, including Imperial Beach’s Sand Squirrels, also will compete.
In its first year, the U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge begins in the absence of Imperial Beach’s renowned competition, canceled by local organizers a year ago.
First held in 1980, the event at its height drew an estimated 400,000 to Imperial Beach. Over time, it became the largest contest of its kind in the world.
“I’ve met a bunch of people from IB, and they love the contest, and they love playing in the sand,” said Kent Trollen, a professional sand sculptor who organizes and judges competitions.
“They’re just disappointed their event didn’t continue. In the meantime, we’ll get this event going. There’s room in this town for both.”
In one of the San Diego event’s three competitions, Archisand and I.B. Posse will compete in the IB Challenge, which Trollen said was named to honor IB’s legacy.
Trollen met many of the individuals who will compete this weekend while judging the World Championship of Sand Sculpting last year in Siesta Key, FL.
Shortly after the U.S. Open fell apart, while he was in Florida last November, Trollen said he was contacted by Greg LeBon of Archisand and Gordon Summer, who helped raise funds for the U.S. Open, to create the U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge.
“We were trying to work with them to keep it going, but once we saw the budget for security and everything we thought ‘Wow, that’s a lot of money,” Trollen said. “I don’t know how they did it.”
The last competition held in IB cost more than $200,000, . Sheriff security , an amount Trollen said he has never paid after organizing more than 20 competitions.
Trollen said Sand Sculpting Challenge organizers tried but were unable to buy the name and website of the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition.
Though similarities exist, here are notable differences between the two:
- Unlike the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition, U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge spectators are charged admission.
- Instead of two days of competitions for kids and adults, sculpted sandcastles will be on-display for four days.
- Instead of a day devoted to competing kids sandcastles, this weekend’s event will have an area where children can make their own creations.
Efforts to bring a sandcastle competition back to Imperial Beach continue.
Julia Simms of CHE Marketing, formerly the city’s public relations provider, continues efforts to organize a competition in 2013, possibly under the banner of the .
The first Sun and Sea Festival was held in IB in 1960, and at one point was combined with the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition. Organizers want to keep attendance near 40,000.
Those interested in volunteering may contact Deric Fernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 619-400-9037.
Leonard Gonzalez, captain of I.B. Posse, said he wants to see sandcastles in IB again.
Gonzalez thinks an annual competition in downtown San Diego could limit the size of any future Imperial Beach competition, but IB could still be a big draw if it’s still free.
“IB’s the original San Diego sand sculptor competition, and we need to do what we can to keep it in our community,” Gonzalez said.