Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sandcastle Days 2006

So everyone wants to talk about it. Or wants me to talk about it. As you might guess, I have some pretty strong feelings about what I think worked -- and what I think went way wrong with this year's event. And I probably won't be able to exercise self-restraint and hold it in forever. But I am trying. For now.

So you tell me: Were you there? What did you like about it? How could it be improved for next year? Let's get some unofficial feedback!

28 Comments:

Blogger Traci said...

I was there! I loved most of it - all the sand and the fantastic sculptures I saw. It was great to see the gurus in action.

Is there a reason they didn't announce ALL the masters or introduce them on stage? or that the event was founded by local people...

The part I ESPECIALLY didn't like was the lack of professionalism pertaining to the voting results. The family results were messed up - and STILL messed up online even though I have called the CVB communications director and emailed about it. (no emails back to me either) It seems to me that such a large event wouldn't mess up who won and who didn't. We didn't find out we had won until after we questioned the fact there were no sandboxes numbered 11 or 13 (the supposed 1st and 2nd place winners) AND this was after talking to several board members who swore up and down they couldn't possibly make a mistake.. Hmmph - OH really? Then why chase us down on the beach to give us our winnings and say you DID make a mistake?

Maybe I am being petty but this was our first time doing a competition and the least they can do is announce the winners correctly and then POST it on the "official" website...

I guess I am being petty but it was important to my family and to the other two families who didn't get the recognition... it certainly isn't about the money. (which we did get at 8pm Saturday night...)

Thank you Lucinda for giving us the push to do this - and tell those eggheaded, power-hungry bureaucrats to give the contest back to the people who should be in charge - THE SAND SCULPTORS

7:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In a nutshell, the competition probably wasn't done as well as in the past by people whose heart and soul was involved, but the current Board has the resources to market it and bring more people to the island than in years before. Lots of people on the island; every restaurant in town was slammed. That's the name of the game, here and everywhere else. Money always wins out. Sad, but true. Maybe they will loosen up as time goes on and accept advice from the pros, but don't be surprised if they do not. And don't take it personally...hard as that may be.

9:07 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Traci seems to have covered some main bases, although let me start with the good parts first: Saturday was beautiful, over a thousand specators attended (I have no idea how man, but LOADS), and the art was top notch.

The traffic was an issue and even Mary Kay told me that maybe a bigger place was needed. The Sapphire construction took up over 100 parking spaces and the shuttle service to Schlitterbaun was less than optimal (some big urban buses would have been cool). I ended up walking, as many others did.

I know the Town has an ordinance against selling things on the beach, but those expensive eats at the Sheraton tore a big hole in our wallets - what is this, eight bucks for two skimpy tacos? Maybe folks should be allowed to sell or give away food somehow, as that deal was pretty stinky, took ages to get an order, and cost dearly. Folks, a taco should cost no more than two bucks.

Now let's cut to the ending. The judges took an extra 30-45 minutes and frankly, a bunch of people left because the wait was BORING. The folks who presented the awards, I mean they sure are nice TV people or something, but they didn't know a sand castle from a White Castle hamburger. They took forever and asked silly questions. As the festival grows, perhaps the amateur and pro awards should be awarded in phases ... before 90% of the crowd leaves.

The Pros really should deserve top treatment and why they have to wait until the end, with no recognition except the three People's and Master's awardees. Man, these guys and gals worked for about 24 hours busting their butts, singlehandedly, and then were like given the short shrift if they didn't win. Line 'em up and make 'em talk and recognize every single one of those incredible artists.

Now I don't mean to be tacky, but those "future masters" sand castle trainers were getting paid real wages, right? I mean at least I know some money went in Andy's direction (I think he coordinated it). To put them on the stage instead of all the International Artists was something of a slap in the face. To me, the kids who learned how to make sand castles should have been given a T-shirt and traipsed in front of the stage, maybe. Hired help is hired help, and please everyone I do not mean to offend anyone.

Finally, what was missing was a hairy dude blowing a conch shell to signal lunch and the end of the day. I know Amazing used to do that but somehow, somewhere deep inside, that was really "Sand Castle Days."

9:16 PM  
Anonymous papabeare said...

My family and I went down later in the day on Sat. We were very impressed over all. Considering the challenges caused by the weather I think the castles were fantastic!! I do, however, agree that parking VERY bad! Also as Sam said, they need to do something about food vending.

As for croud numbers??? Were the numbers up compared to past years? Also, I do NOT agree with whomever said the restaurants were slammed !! 3 or 4 restaurants were slammed. However, most were not busy at all!! All of the action is located in one area and people seemed to either go their, or Louies, Dennys, or Blackbeards mainly. I think most other restaurants had very little business from the event. I am sure some hotels did well but many people who came were "valley" people. I guess, though I loved the event, I do NOT see it at this time attracting huge crouds bringing bug $$$$ to the Island. The Bike Fest a week earlier was looked 6X or more larger even though it was nearly flooded out !!! I hope the event continues, but it may need a new larger location if possible.

Ok, having hit the negatives....the artists did work that blew us away!! I saw smiles on almost every face in the croud...people had a good time.I know we will want to come back and will tell our families.

9:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't quite understand how it was better in those prior non-corporate days. There was no free food or cheap tacos then either. Parking was no one's fault due to construction, an island staple the other 361 days a year. There was local sand castle builder involvement in the planning, just not you or your friends. It was a Master who signaled lunch the day I was there, just not Walter or a shell not native to the island. But I do agree with the comments about a certain lack of spirit this year and I do agree that beach vendors should be welcomed. There's nothing wrong with a circus atmosphere at a circus.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

I didn't mean that "the old days" were ideal or more idyllic, and Sand Castle Days just keeps getting better and better. Some of the negatives fall into concrete (har har) and abstract forms.

But so do the positives.

How 'bout that impressive line-up of Porta-Potties? How about all those kids (some 60 years old) in the "future masters" tent? Wow, I didn't see a single carving stand not occupied. And on the more personal level, the smiles, and Andy's wonderful help all over the field. Having Cate there, about to have a baby but happily working away, was also a blessing. Did I mention the water pump guys? If you (an an amateur) had a water barrell, they would fill it up for you - way to go, guys!

A few more negatives: one vendor complained that high winds on Friday caused some tents to break/fly apart and do some damage. The rent on the tents was something like $100 and they were quite concerned. [On the positive side, their Saturday was very good, although not as much money taken as last year.]

There did seem to be some mix-up with the judges and judging. I won't speculate as to who or why, although I was aware that several folks were ordained as judges at the last minute. Abstract? Real? I dunno.

But on the whole, I had a great time. /Sam

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sandcastledays - fantastic
whats wrong with the event?
nothing
keeps getting bigger and better
there were some challenges but everyone can learn from these
perhaps we can even order better weather for next year
see you on the beach
allbolocks

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Traci
give it back to the sand sculptors?
thought they were the main event anyway?
were you there?
everyone except the few who spend their time complaining seemed to have a great time - despite the weather
judging seemed quicker this year don't you think?
see you on the beach?

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Andy hancock said...

Sam - Andy hancock here
If you would like to know how many sand sculpture lessons we gave and why, or why we didn't give a t-shirt to every kid just give me a ring
do you have anything positive to say? or should we just call you dyans
andy hancock

1:08 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Andy,

I believe I said:

"How about all those kids (some 60 years old) in the "future masters" tent? Wow, I didn't see a single carving stand not occupied. And on the more personal level, the smiles, and Andy's wonderful help all over the field. Having Cate there, about to have a baby but happily working away, was also a blessing. Did I mention the water pump guys? If you (an an amateur) had a water barrell, they would fill it up for you - way to go, guys!"

That's not positive?
/Sam

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I missed the unlitter pledge. Who decided after so many years that is was no longer an important part of the awards ceremony?

2:00 PM  
Anonymous jill said...

For those of us who are out of state and follow the event on line I wish that the event web site would at least put some photos up of all of the master sculptors' work.

2:49 PM  
Anonymous kirk Rademaker said...

"There was local sand castle builder involvement in the planning, just not you or your friends."....
I'd like to respond to this remark an "anonymous" person put up.
I was on a project in Belgium...Amazin was just another one of the 60 or so sand carvers from all over the world....I mean everywhere. The charismatic Walter was immediatly picked out by the organizors out of the throng of carvers to help with the publicity. He traveled around the huge sandpile with this entourage of cameras and boom microphones interacting with all the sculptors for all the Dutch to see on TV. They loved him.
Walter was my teamate at the world championships in 2002 in Canada.. Again, sand sculptors from ALL over the world.....China, Brazil, Latvia, Finland, Spain, France, Japan, Australia.........to name a few. I can tell you I know of no other in the world sand sculpture community that commands more respect than Amazin. I've seen this at sand projects in Mexico, Costa Rica, Europe, and Quebec....and these are just the projects where I've been.
Why the locals wouldnt tap in to that resource is pretty strange.
Yeah, Walter is a friend of mine....he also is a friend and representative of sandsculptors all over the world.
I am upset and confused why his own home beach would treat him with such disdain.
as for sandyfeet. , she's my girlfriend...I love the woman...so I guess anything I say has to be scrutinized a little. But you really cant scrutinize the fact that she has been paid to sculpt sand in Japan, China, South Africa, Italy, Belgium, Costa Rica, Arruba, and all over the US. She has written books on sand sculpture that have been tranlated into Japanese and German. The largest sand sculpture website in the world "sandcastlecentral.com" was created and is operated by her. She has appeared on "Good Morning America" and Travel Channels "Sandblasters".
Yes there was local sand sculpture involvement....but its like someone throwing a Dallas Cowboys party in Tom Landry's backyard and having a Lithuanian kicker throw Tom out of his house and taking over the festivities.
Did that woman they hired really ask Karen "Do you consider yourself an artist" ?

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no doubt that Sandy and Walter deserve respect for their sand sculpture and work on beaches around the world

I would love to see something new and exciting in sand sculpture on SPI.
so come on sand and walter show us why you are called amazing.

you'd have my support and I'm sure you have plenty of financial support as well.

see you on the beach

5:59 PM  
Blogger Traci said...

Some comments and answers to “anonymous” question:(Why anonymous?IMHO people who choose to write by hiding don’t believe in what they are writing… nor can they stand up to confrontation or defend it... Just my HO… )



give it back to the sand sculptors? thought they were the main event anyway?


I guess I should have said that the artists should have control of it. I know about big bucks and marketing/advertising – that’s what I do to pay for my sand habit. The point I was trying to make was the fact it loses its flavor when you get corporate involved. For example, a mom and pop business gets bought out by a big corporation – this business might have been making money hand over fist, but the big boys think they know it all and come in and change things – attempting to make it “better”, but it loses its charm and that “family” atmosphere – the very reason people frequented them.

were you there? Yes or I wouldn’t be posting here…

everyone except the few who spend their time complaining seemed to have a great time - despite the weather

The weather was great except for one storm. I didn’t spend my time complaining – I did state I had a great time BUT Lucinda asked for opinions, the good AND the bad. This was her baby and it’s her blog - she is entitled to ask opinions - I gave mine.


judging seemed quicker this year don't you think?

First time this year, but not my first competition. Compared to others, I thought it was slow.

see you on the beach?

Every chance I get – marker 22 Port Aransas. This Sunday, Ave G, 2-4 pm, Pumpkin Patch carving demo and instruction. (Local sculptors – put on by the Parks and Rec.)

Did that woman they hired really ask Karen "Do you consider yourself an artist" ?

Uh, yes, she sure did. I agree with your comments Kirk...

One other comment and I’ll try to keep my fingers still – Lucinda and Walter and the whole SPI gang have done miracles for the sand sculpting industry. Sand Castle Days wouldn’t exist with out THEM. They have marketed the sand and made people feel like ANYONE could do it… I am one of those people and I will forever be grateful, especially to Lucinda and Walter for teaching our family and bringing out the artist in all of us.

And I’m just one of thousands…

6:18 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

I agree with Kirk.

Will Davis

6:58 PM  
Blogger Lucinda said...

Sorry you were attacked, Traci. I don't know why it is not possible to discuss these "challenges" the event faces in a calm, constructive way and why some people feel they have to hide behind a mask of anonymity, but I would think event organizers would be interested to learn about problems they might have missed and use that information to improve the event.

Andy - I don't know why you jumped on Sam after he said some very nice things about what you were doing out there. Please re-read his comments - he was not in any shape or form suggesting all of your students should have gotten free t-shirts. (At least you signed your name, and that is appreciated.)

I am trying to be nice... I hope everyone else will be as well as I don't want to have to censor this thread.

7:19 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Lucinda, I am quite proud of you for walking the line. You know I have been after you to "be a good girl" and be constructive. And, to a certain extent it actually worked.

You could have unleased the Banshees of Irish Hell on all kinds of folks, but no, you had self control. You even defended some poor ole folks like Traci and me. Not necessary; we can handle the heat but that was very well appreciated.

And you know what? We all are growing, changing, and getting better. If you think the Sand Castle Days should be something done on the sly behind Boomies or Wanna, well that ain't going to happen like that on such a grand scale.

And did we learn something? There were some obvious difficulties and many can be found right here on this thread. But we all knew that stuff in advance but saw it in particular circumstances. Rather than dwell on the bad, I do want to say the Spirit is alive, the tradition continues, and all will be OK. Next year should be even better, weather permitting.

Thanks to all of you made it possible. Andy, you too, brother.

10:24 PM  
Blogger Traci said...

Just a thought Lucinda... I see a ton of energy and passion - Have you ever thought about TWO events? We (Corpus) have two, one in March/April, one in June...

7:53 AM  
Anonymous Lori Wells said...

I think Sand Castle Days is a worderful event, and I look forward to it every year. I did miss saying the UNLITTER pledge this year, and hearing Walter blow the conch shell to signal the start and end times. This was my second year to participate in the amateur contest, and I had a great time. I really appreciated having easy access to water this year. I do have two suggestions for the amateur contest next year. I think it would be a good idea to require people to stop for an hour lunch break, especially in the Texas State division, which has a maximum of two people participating. That event could start at 8:00a.m. so that people would still have seven hours to work on their piece. When you only have seven hours, the inclination is to work continuously, and it would have been better for me to have been required to take a break. My second suggestion is to provide ribbons or small trophies in the amateur division. I think this would be especially nice in the youth events. Money is nice, but it doesn't give you anything to commemorate the event. Overall, I think everyone did a great job. I thought it was a very successful event, in spite of the rain and construction. I do think it would be nice to introduce all of the master sculpters next year. We get such incredible artists at this event, and I think they all deserve some public recognition.

8:13 AM  
Anonymous Kirk Rademaker said...

Yeah Lori....sandcastledays is and always will be a great event. It was a good one this year. However, the unlitter pledge was indeed sorely missed. We say it every year at the World Championships in Canada, the carvers in Belgium insisted on Walter giving them the pledge when I was there...I called Amazn up on the phone before I took my own daughter to the beach 10 yrs ago to get him to give her the "pledge". Sandsculptors all over the world ask sandy feet and Walter to lead em through the pledge.....Its recognized as a rite of passage in the world wide community of sand. You/ I cant blame the local organisors for their dropping of this important ritual/message, they just didn't know. How would they?

10:32 AM  
Anonymous neighbor_s said...

We went to SCD's on saturday, with our winter texans, and out new puppy, and had a wonderful time.
We wanted to go sunday, but the weather got bad.
I say more of these type of events ( vollyball, kiteboard, kite flying tourney's, etc. )is what the island needs, and do more of these activities between the two holidays - peak season, as to attract more out of town folks.... read the study on the townspi website, it's why most families come to the island.
This was my first time to go.. and naturally, Sandy was the best!
neighbor s

12:41 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

The thought of having a second sand castle fest on the Island is not a new one, and it has some limited support as long as it does not conflict or compete with the official one already being done. That was a good point, neightbor_s, to fill in more of the shoulder season.

That said, when I asked Amazing Walter about the concept he said "show me the money." He was not cold about it; he just wanted an incentive to get out there and compete because it IS a ton of work. It also takes a lot of effort to lobby for all the sponsorships and put on a show. Plus, the idea is to raise some money for local charities and volunteer groups.

I am not familiar with the economics but I would think about ten grand would be needed to bring in the pros and a "mature" event such as Sand Castle Days might turnover something in excess of $40,000. That's the reason why a corporation was created for SCD. Remember, the audience doesn't pay a dime for all this fun, so yes it is a challenge.

If there is interest ... and half the Island doesn't get mad about it ... I would volunteer to help put together a second sand castle fest on the Island. I would insist that Amazing and Sandy and the crew be involved, directly or indirectly. It would be a pilot test at first, perhaps themed on a "trail of sandcastles" on the beach. Cool idea?

OK, blast away, but my heart really is in the right place ... /Sammy

1:26 PM  
Blogger Traci said...

I do NOT have to work tomorrow. YEAH! so I'm going to build in the sand!!!

2nd weekend in April would be good... since a ton of masters come to Sandfest the last week of March.. not so much in expenses if you have TWO competitions back to back 3 hours apart.

I don't live there but I would come down and help... and I'm quite sure the other guys/gals on this end of the sand might be up for it too...

Did I mention that ATT, Time Warner, and a few other "big boys" were my clients? I wouldn't mind throwing the idea their way for corporate sponsorship...You just need to pick a charity...

I'll hush and go back to my pile of sand...and stop trying to be Ms. Marketing person... :)

6:30 PM  
Anonymous papabeare said...

One question I haven't seen answered yet. Please, does anyone have figures on how many people attended this year?? Also , how do the numbers compare to last year? Is this indeed a growing event? It was great fun in any case. Ok, also wondering why it is held in Oct. Yes, I understand you are trying to attract people during off peak season. It would attract even more by far during say....JUNE, when kids aren't in school. If their ever is a second sandcastle event, I for one would rather see it held first or second week in June. June is NOT " high season" thats July. June IS a busier month than Oct. However, it would be something to see how many might attend during traditional vacation time. Ok, thats my 2 cents and I'm done. Thanks for help and info as I don't know very much about this fantastic event

7:54 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Laguna Madre Humane Society, Sea Turtle Inc., folks like that always need money and they are way-cool causes. There are more if you want.

I think we have at least two people with great ideas. I think we need to cultivate Traci of the huge sponsor potential! And Nancy, you're showing committee potential already.

Can I be secretary and cabana boy?
:LOL
Sam

8:54 PM  
Blogger Traci said...

Sam -
Only if you wear a speedo LOL

9:23 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

OK, but ONLY once!

10:23 PM  

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