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Master Sand Sculptors Headed This Way

It's Christmas, the last day of school and my birthday all rolled into one! It's Sand Castle Days time again and if you aren't just as excited as I am then read on and get a load of the talent we have coming across the ferries to entertain you at Boomerang Billy's Beach this weekend...

Thanks to the generosity of our major sponsors (the SPI Convention and Visitors Bureau and Steve Spencer of Ft. Worth), we are able to offer a bigger prize package than ever before and expecting the largest field of masters ever -16 if everyone shows. And we are not trading in quality for quantity -- seven of those 16 won medals at last month's world championship.

Pity the fool (er... that would be ME!) who dares compete against these wizards:

Guy "Surrealism-R-Us" Beauregard - Quebec
I was really excited when Guy (rhymes with "key') e-mailed to ask if he could come to SPI this year. "Well -- I guess we can make room for the current world champion...."
Guy will be easy to pick out; he's the one with the extreme dreadlocks and tres cool French accent. Guy is on a roll this year; in addition to his world championship title, he took first place in Quebec (solo) and 4th place in Virginia Beach. His sculpture is typically organic -- rich in textures with multiple cut-throughs in surprising locations. His artistic endeavors are not limited to sand; he also carves wood and ice.

Dan "Defier of Gravity" Doubleday - Florida
Dan has perfected the art of attaining tremendous height while using a surprisingly minimal amount of sand. His "space needles" are frighteningly vertical and cleanly carved - his figures are amazingly life-like and are often subtle self-portraits. He is a "sculptor's sculptor," having won more "sculptors' choice" awards then any other artist on the circuit. He and partner Meredith Corson operate their company "Sandingovations" out of Treasure island, FL.
Dan was the reigning world champion before Guy unseated him, so we might get to see a bit of a grudge match between these two giants right here on SPI. Stand back and watch the sand fly!

Meredith "Don't call me Sand Goddess" Corson - Florida
"'Dith" could very easily become the first woman to take first place in the SPI Sand castle Days event. She was the first woman to win a solo medal at the world championships, and last month she became the first and only woman to win the gold at that contest (in the new doubles category with partner Dan Doubleday.) As a mother of three, she often takes her subject matter from her home life and many local fans still remember the excellent "School Teacher" piece she built the last time she was here back in 1997, winner of the Peoples Choice award. We are very happy to welcome her back after too long an absence.

John "East Coast Cowboy" Gowdy - New Jersey
I have been trying to get this "heavy hitter" to SPI for years and it looks like I have finally succeeded (you can thank me later.) As a Captain of the Atlantic City Fire Dept., it is not always easy for him to get the time off to compete. Cowboy's subject matter covers a lot of territory - he can go from the sublime to the sublimely ridiculous with plenty of stops in between and is known as the master of huge-scale faces and hands. He is responsible for coining the unofficial motto of the professional sand sculpting world - PARTYcarvePARTY - and you can bet the farm that he will be doing plenty of both here on South "Parde" island this year.

Rusty "Rust-O-Matic" Croft - Utah
Rusty is one of the youngest sculptors on the circuit, which gives him something of an edge in the sand-moving department.... but he is no slouch when it comes to carving the detail, either. Many of you will remember the piece he carved here last year - "Centaur" - which ended up tying for 3rd place. Rusty sculpts ice and snow in the winter and has an infectious grin and an upbeat attitude that won't quit. He had so much fun last year that he had already committed to returning in '01 before the final results were even announced.

Karen "Sand Woman" Fralich - Toronto
Men vastly out-number women in the ranks of professional sand sculptors, and we are fortunate indeed to have two of the winningest female carvers at SPI this year. Karen is one of the sweetest and most cheerful people I know -- but she turns into a demon-armed-with-shovel on the sand pile. She is noted for carving lovely realistic figures and placed 5th in a large field at the world championships in Sept. Last year she took second place at SPI with "Little Red Riding Hood" and she could easily give Meredith a run for her money in her efforts to become the first woman to win here.

Uh-oh. Looks like I ran out of space before I ran out of sculptors. Better keep an eye out for Barry "Look at the elephant!" Swires; Greg "Castles Rule" Grady; Patricia "Patou from Saskatoon" Leguen; Dave "Arch Fiend" Walker; Dan "Who is this guy?" Glover; Bert "Bertram of the Sand" Adams; Alfred "Sandman" Flores; Steve "Grateful Dunehead" Mutter; Mark "in like" Flynn; and.... me. (More sculptor info and photos at www.sandcastledays.com.)

Be sure to come out and see us. Just like last year, you will be able to vote for people's choice with your spare change -- all proceeds benefit the Laguna Madre Humane Society.

See you on the beach!

There are five (5) ways to submit your questions/comments for future Ask Sandy columns: In person; by phone (761-6222) or fax (761-8930); the US Postal System (box 2694,spi,78597) and E-mail: (sandyfeet@unlitter.com). Visit my web-site (http://spionline.com/) for tips on sandcastling, contest info, recent Ask Sandy columns, and my reviews of local businesses.

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