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Cobourg Sandcastle Festival

Gary

by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams

Can You Dig It?

Here we are at Cobourg Beach. It looks more like a desert archaeological dig than a Sandcastle Building Contest. The beach is blocked into rectangles. Although the Cobourg Sandcastle Festival has just started and not all the competitors have arrived, there are still mounds of sand everywhere. Before we started our tour of the castles, we decided to take a look at the other activities included in the festival. There were shade tents set up to indicate where the different activities were taking place. At the first tent, a table had been set up where kids could build little toy sailboats. They boat shaped blocks of wood with a wooden peg coming out of the centre of the wood block. On the peg was a piece of paper shaped like a sail. The kids nailed cokes onto each side of the block. Near the building table was a wading pool. Here the kids could test out their newly created boats. Not far off was another shade tent. Under it a number of kids were digging furiously. There was buried treasure in the sand, somewhere beneath the tent. I am not sure if and when the treasure was found. Just off the beach was a climbing wall where a number of kids were either climbing the wall or waiting for their turn. Back on the beach, by the water, there were 5 master sand carvers at work. It was amazing to see them work. Their creativity and speed was awe inspiring. It would be several hours before either the masters or competitors would be finished, so we took our leave for a few hours ready to return for the completion of the sandcastles and the for the judging…

Master Sand Sculptors…

Before we had left, the master sand sculptors were well on their way to completing their masterpieces. They had started the day before readying themselves for Saturday’s sculpting. When we returned in the afternoon, the masters had completed their works of art. The first, by Wayne Stirling, Hamilton, was one of the Cobourg Sandcastle Festival sponsor’s logo. Next to Wayne, building a magnificent castle was Sandi Stirling, Hamilton. I had watched her earlier sculpt. The attention to detail was amazing. I have watched many artists create detailed paintings. Very few worked as meticulously as Sandi. Further down the line was Tanya Kastl, Waterloo. Her “octopus under the hat” carving was a whimsical display of imagination. Next was a sculpture title “Wish”. It was created by Bob Vancleef of Toronto. Again, the attention to detail was inspiring. I don’t know how he managed to keep the turrets on top of the three castles from crumbling. I guess that’s why he is a master sculptor! The final master sculptor was Nick Blandin, Hamilton. Nick’s creation was probably the most intriguing and terrifying. It was of a flying reptile. You could almost feel that it was going to come alive and attach! Now having a sense of what sand sculpting was all about, we set out to look at the amateur competitors work…

The Contestants…

I thought after seeing the master sand sculptors’ work that looking at the amateurs’ would be a big let down. Lara Scott, the Cobourg’s event coordinator and brain child of the Sandcastle Festival told me that I would be impressed by the calibre of the contestants. She was right! Most of the people (families, individuals, children, male, female, old, young and in-between) were very serious sandcastle builders. Many had brought tents, umbrellas, chairs, buckets, spades, trowels. If you needed it to build a sandcastle, someone had it, somewhere. When we first came to the beach in the morning there was little to see but roped off rectangles. In the afternoon it was a much different sight. Most of the rectangle plots were occupied. The mounds of sand of the morning had suddenly come alive with animals, cars, people and castles! We started walking along the various rows that bounded the castle building sites. As we walked along I tried to photograph as many creations as possible. I wanted to paint a picture of what I was seeing. This was the Cobourg Sandcastle Festival's second year. I am sure it won’t be the last.

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