SIESTA KEY, Fla. - It's time once again for one of the Suncoast's biggest events: the Siesta Key Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Competition. Artists have spent days perfecting their creations in the fine sand at one of the best beaches in the world.
The 4th annual event is underway, and it includes everything from music to food…and of course, sand.
From the young, to the young at heart, spectators all pack the beach to see master sand sculptors at work. The creations range from castles to popular children cartoons; there is even donkey and an elephant fighting, which some say has a political undertone.
"I think we both love the donkey and the elephant. But let’s just send it to Congress and tell them to get the message."
But organizers say sending a message isn't the purpose of the event. It’s to help a deserving organization. "For all four years, the proceeds go to Mote Marine Laboratory for sea turtle research," says Eileen Parkinson.
Mote's Sea Turtle Research program coordinates conservation efforts for the 35 miles of Sarasota County shoreline. They're monitoring 52,000 turtles and protecting more than two million turtle eggs.
Parkinson says the Crystal Classic has raised almost $100,000 for the group. "We've been very happy be able to pass our proceeds along to them."
But organizers aren't the only ones celebrating. The sculptors are also giving positive feedback. “This event is one of the better events in Florida now, and actually I was here last year and it seems like it’s doubled in size, doubled in quality, doubled in participation,” says Craig Mutch.
There are sculptors from nine countries represented at the event: including Vancouver, Berlin, and Italy. Voting on the sculptures will continue all weekend and organizers say they will be there rain or shine.
For more information on the event, visit www.siestakeycrystalclassic.com.