PARKSVILLE — Some of the world's top sculptors are in Parksville for Canada's premier sand sculpting competition.
The 35th annual Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition kicked off the Parksville Beach Festival on Friday afternoon at the Community Park.
Festival Society president Cheryl Dill said all of the competitors are master sculptors who are part “of the competitive sand sculpting circuit around the world and they've won previous competitions internationally, and we get to feature them here in Parksville.”
Fifteen soloists and seven doubles teams are hard at work on their creations under the theme of Canada's 150th birthday.
The sandcastle foundations were laid Friday afternoon and artists will sculpt for 30 hours through to late Sunday afternoon, when awards are handed out.
Dill said sculptors from six countries are represented: Canada, United States, Lithuania, Italy and Russia.
While the opening weekend is fairly busy, Dill said having such a long event allows large numbers of people to comfortably view the impressive sandcastles.
“We've got five weeks to enjoy the exhibition, we're open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. starting Saturday. There's lots of time and lots of space for people to come on in.”
Dill noted the Parksville festival is the only Canadian event qualifier for international competitions.
The Parksville Beach Festival has exploded in popularity over the last several years. More than 133,000 people passed through the gates to view the impressive sand creations in 2016, up 22 per cent from the year before. Attendance numbers have more than doubled over the last 10 years.
The 22 sandcastles will remain standing at Parksville Beach until Aug. 20. They can be viewed for a suggested donation of $3, which goes toward the sculptors and boosts non-profit organizations in the Parksville-Qualicum region.
On Twitter: @reporterholmes
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