Hundreds of amateur artists and architects will stake their plots of sand this weekend for the 33rd annual Birch Bay Sand Sculpture Competition, which draws hundreds of participants and spectators.
On-site registration opens at 9 a.m. Saturday, July 23, and at 10 a.m. Sunday, July 24, said Doralee Booth of the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce, which is sponsoring the event with Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2. Sand sculpture construction ends at 4 p.m. both days, with judging and an awards ceremony immediately afterward each day.
Competition is on the sand flats near the new Birch Bay Beach Park, 7930 Birch Bay Drive. It’s free to watch and open to the public.
Last year, they got extremely elaborate. They’re getting better and better, and last year we had a great crowd of people walking and looking.
Doralee Booth, Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce
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“As soon as the tide goes out and the sand is dry, they go to town,” Booth said.
The later start on Sunday accommodates a later morning high tide, she said.
High school, business and children’s division entries hit the beach Saturday, with masters division and family and nonprofit group entries on Sunday.
Drayton Harbor tide charts call for a 7.5-foot high tide at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, and a minus 0.1-foot low at 2:21 p.m. On Sunday, there’s a 7-foot flood tide at 8:41 a.m., and a 0.9-foot ebb at 3:30 p.m. Weekend weather calls for sunny skies with highs in the 70s and only a slight chance of rain.
Over the years, sand sculptures have ranged from the practical to the fantastic, with entries representing the nearby Semiahmoo lighthouse, Egyptian pyramids, trains, cars and mermaids. Some sculptures are true feats of engineering, using hundreds of pounds of sand. Any kind of tool or form can be used, but the sculptures must be free-standing, Booth said.
“Last year, they got extremely elaborate,” Booth said. “They’re getting better and better, and last year we had a great crowd of people walking and looking. Last year, the favorite was the mermaid. She was absolutely fabulous. We were in awe.”
Registration is free for children 12 and younger and in the family and nonprofits division. Registration is $10 per person for the masters division and $5 per person for all other categories.
Participants can register online at birchbaychamber.com/sandcastles.html or simply arrive ready to build, Booth said.
The event will feature food and craft vendors, and former masters division winners will conduct a sand sculpture clinic at Birch Bay Beach Park. Activities for children include a pirate-themed bounce house.