Competition ends at Crystal Classic but economic benefits continue

  • 1

Age didn’t matter during the Siesta Key Crystal Classic on Sunday. Everyone was thrilled and amazed by the sand sculptures.

“I love it,” said Kathy Doogan who is visiting with her husband from Cincinnati, Ohio. The Doogans just heard about the sand sculpting competition and decided to check it out on the spur of the moment.

“We saw this was going on and we thought why not, come over here and see this.”

While the Siesta Key Crystal Classic was a spur of the moment decision for the Doogans for many others the event is the destination. The sand sculpture competition started four years ago and now it has become so popular many tourists plan their vacations around the Crystal Classic.

“We have people calling the Siesta Key Chamber months in advance trying to figure out when we are going to have this so they can actually be here during the event,” explained Maria Bankemper who is the board chair for the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce.

And those visiting tourists bring plenty of disposable income. The Siesta Key chamber of commerce estimates the economic impact generated by the competition which is in its fourth year to be around $2 to $2.5 million.

Along with drawing tourist dollars to the local economy, proceeds from the Crystal Classic benefit Mote Marine Laboratory’s turtle a research and conservation programs.