The Sand People are Coming

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10th Annual Sculpting Competition

By Mackenzie Ferreira

Hampton Union, Friday, June 18, 2010

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]
Sand sculptor Kristie Haupt works on sculpting a sponsor piece with a mermaid and a fish at last year's Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Competition.
[File photo]
HAMPTON BEACH -- In 2000, Greg Grady was commissioned by the U.S. Mint to create a replica of the tail side of the new New Hampshire quarter during the Hampton Beach Children's Festival.

After using 10 tons of sand that had been imported from Newmarket and 60 rain-filled hours, Grady created a larger than life replica to celebrate the release of the new coin.

It was then that Grady decided to put together a talent filled sand sculpting contest every summer at Hampton Beach.

"I had been competing in competitions in other parts of the country. I knew there wasn't a competition in New England, so I thought it would be good idea to start one," says Grady.

This invitation-only competition has since become the largest Master Sand Sculpting Competition in the Northeastern United States. As well, the Hampton Beach competition is the only qualifying event on the East Coast for the World Championships.

"Only the first place winner qualifies for the World Championships," said Grady.

Not to mention, the prize money the contestants are vying for at Hampton Beach is $15,000.

The top five winners and the people's choice award winner will receive monetary rewards. The first place winner will receive a $3,000 reward, and the people's choice winner will receive a $1,000 prize.

This year's competition will continue from today, June 18 until June 26. However, the sculptures will remain lighted for nightly viewing up until June 30.

Today, the sand will be delivered and dropped at the sight of the competition.

On June 19 to 23, the sponsor site will be created by all of the contestants.

From June 24 to 26 the solo competition will take place.

This year, the 10th annual competition will use more than 300 tons of imported sand from Hudson, with the sponsor site alone using around 200 tons. Each of the 10 world class contestants will be allowed to use anywhere from 10 to 12 tons of sand for their individual sculptures.

Contestants will be coming in from not only local areas, but places as far away as Ohio, Missouri, Texas, and even the Netherlands.

In the past, this event has attracted the attention of thousands of visitors who have come to watch the sculpting. Grady expects nothing different this year.

"It's really just weather permitting, but we've had anywhere from 50,000 to 75,000 spectators before," Grady said.

This year's theme for the sponsor sight is Shangri-La.

Shangri-La is a fictional place once described in James Hilton's 1933 novel "Lost Horizon." It is described as a mystical and hidden paradise, much like the Garden of Eden.

And Grady is tight lipped about what he expects to see out of the sponsor site.

"It's a Shangri-La theme," he says. "That's all I'm giving up."

Grady also stated that he likes to have diversity in the solo competition, and therefore does not assign a theme for this part of the sand-sculpting competition.

As well, on the 26th, from 1 to 3 p.m. (sign-up required), free lessons in sand sculpting will be offered.

From 1 to 4 p.m. on the 26th, the voting for people's choice award will take place. At 8 p.m. the awards ceremony will take place on the Seashell Stage, and at 9:30 p.m. the fireworks display will begin.

Justin Gordon of Groveland, Mass., works on a sponsor sculpture at last year’s competition.
[File photo]

For information regarding the competition visit,

June 18: Sand delivered
June 19-23: Sponsor site created by all contestants
June 24-26: Individual competition
June 26: Judging

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