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A man's sand is his castle

Benjermin Jessop of Monmouth, Ore., contributes  to the 'Life Is A Beach' team entry during the 2016 Sandsations sand sculpting competition in Long Beach.

It’s time to enjoy warm, salty air and get a taste of what human imagination can do with plain old sand.

Sandsations, the popular sand-sculpting competition in Long Beach, takes place next week on the shoreline directly off the Bolstad St. beach approach.

The 34th annual competition will attract sand carvers from all over the West Coast and Canada. If the past in any indication, they’ll sculpt immense sea creatures, castles and other fantastic figures.

“We really want to attract more teams for the competition. We are looking for more ‘sand fans’ or groupies to come from other local sand-sculpting competitions,” Long Beach Tourism and Events coordinator Ragan Myers said.

Sandsations is free to attend. Competitors pay registration fees ranging from $1 for children under 12 to $65 for masters-level participants. The festival is put on with support from 10 sponsors and many volunteers from the Long Beach area.

Long Beach resident and Sandsations logistics co-chair Karl Hintz has volunteered at the festival for many years. He said this year the competition will be better because the tides will be good.

“Usually you have people out there really early in the morning carving and everything’s washed away in the tides by noon,” he said over the phone.

The festival takes place Wednesday through Sunday, with sand sculpting lessons for all ages will be held every day. The competition will happen on Saturday, July 21, starting at 8 a.m. Awards will be given out at 3 p.m.

Organizers are expecting 30 to 35 sculpting competition teams. In 2016 there were 24 teams and 28 in 2017. There will be live music, a D.J., a beer garden, and food vendors on Saturday during the competition.

All five days of the festival will showcase master carvers sculpting shapes from the sand.

“They do really immaculate work. It’s all great stuff,” Hintz said.

According to Myers, the carvers are paid to carve all week. However, they can still enter the contest and compete for prize money.

Cash money and other gifts will be awarded to winners in the categories of Masters, Intermediate, Novice, and Family sculptures. Intermediate competitors can win up to $300 and masters winners can earn up to $900.

Sandsations and the August kite festival are two main tourism attractions for Long Beach, according to Myers. “It’s just a really great way to expose our area. You can’t just pass through Long Beach. It’s the destination.”

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