The ninth annual South Padre Island Sandcastle Days '96 (Oct. 19-20 at the Bahia Mar) was a great success. The wind could have been turned down a few notches, but overall mother nature was very cooperative, serving up sunnier skies and warmer temperatures than just about any other part of the nation was getting.

By the end of the first day of competition, there were approximately 30 sandsculptures dotting the narrow beaches at the Bahia Mar, representing all levels of proficiency and created by sculptors who came from all over Texas and Oklahoma to compete.

Sculpture subjects included traditional castles, sea creatures, Egyptian temples, Indian ruins, creatures from Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs & Ham", the world's ugliest mermaids and a one-eyed alien pig.

One of the more notable aspects of this event was the use of an alternative judging system - designed by sculptor Damon Farmer - that asks judges to rank the entries from best to worst in several areas rather than come up with points.

The pictures on this page represent the work of the five master sculptors flown in from around the US and Canada by the event's main sponsor, the SPI Convention & Visitor's Bureau. To see some pictures from the Open categories, click here.

all photos by sandy feet

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1ST PLACE - Masters Division



Rich Varano carving

"Good Knight Out On the Town"



Rich - detail
< Rich Varano is the resident sandsculptor at Sea World in Orlando. He wowed the SPI crowds with his small-scale detailed renderings of waterfalls, trees, vine-covered walls and the drawbridge crossing knight pictured here.

This was Rich's fifth visit to the island - and his forth victory in this competition.


Mark Mason carving2ND PLACE - Masters Division

Mark Mason of Sarasota, FL is shown here working on his Dr. Seuss-inspired piece, "SAND I AM." This was Mark's third year at the SPI competition.

 Damon Farmer

 < 3RD PLACE - Masters Division

Damon Farmer - hailing from the beaches of Versaille, Kentucky - is the current solo world champion who has also competed (and won) here several times.

This year, his sculpture featured a ship's statuesque figurehead suddenly becoming aware of the precariousness of her situation.

 "Hayrides - $0.05"

Charlie Beaulieu of Seattle, WA is shown working on this sculpture that featured freiendly animals riding around a track on hay bales shaped to resemble '57 chevies.

This was Charlie's second visit to SPI - he took third place and won People's Choice in last year's contest with the popular "Swine & Dine."

 Charlie at work


<Freddy Dobbs of Victoria, British Columbia is shown here putting the finishing touches on a bear in his piece, entitled "Solar Bears' Picnic."

Freddy recently took second place in the solo division of the World Championship in Harrison Hot Springs, BC. This was his first visit to South Padre Island - and we hope he liked our sand enough to want to come back in the near future.

 The Sons of the Beach Sandcastle Wizards (aka Amazin' Walter & sandy feet) built their traditional demonstration castle again this year. It was a bit on the small side -- but then, so was the amount of sponsorship they were able to scare up. Kelly from over at Kelly's Irish Pub always comes through, though and so was able to score a prominant spot on the SOB's sculpture.

Other local businesses that donated goods or services to this event include: the Bahia Mar, Miller Lite, Advantage Rent-A-Car, and Pizza Express.

Thanks to all the participants and volunteers who ehlped this thing come off almost without a hitch, and special thanks to CVB Activities Director Iris Hernandez who put incredibly long hours into planning and organizing this mucho-successful event.

 SOB demo castle

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