Date Of Visit: Sep. 6, 2020
Location: Hampton Beach, 160 Ocean Blvd, Hampton, NH
Hours: Open daily dawn to dusk
Parking: The main parking area and and Ocean are closed during the sand sculpting festival. Visitors can park in one of the lots in the area. Parking costs 10 to 30 dollars depending on when you park
Universally Accessible: Yes
Dog Friendly: Yes
Highlights: sand sculptures, street performers,
Summary: Despite the Covid 19 pandemic, the show must go on at the
The next time someone tells you to go “pound sand”, say Ok and head over to Hampton Beach Sand Sculpting Festival!
Yes, not even a pandemic can stop the sculptors from showing off their creativity and skills, with the proper social distancing measures taken.
I decided to photograph the sand sculptures a little different this year than I have in the past. Instead of going to the beach early in the morning or during the competition, I waited until the evening when the sculptures are lit up. The photos of the back of the sculptures were taken earlier in the day. So you may see some beautiful images of the sunset in the background of those photos. The sky looked like it was on fire.
The festival, which usually takes place at the end of June, was postponed until Labor Day weekend this year due to the COVID19 outbreak.
First prize went to Meliniege Beauregard (http://sculpturebeauregard.com/) of Quebec, Canada, for her sculpture “Second Star To The Right And Straight On Till Morning”. Beauregard also won first place in last year’s competition.
Third place was awarded to Thomas Koet of Satellite Beach, Florida for his sculpture ” Eye Of The Beholder.”
Karen Fralich (http://www.sandscapes.com/bio_krn.html) of Toronto, Canada, won fourth place with “Just Breathe.”
The coveted “Governor’s Choice”, selected by New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, went to Cgris Guinto (https://ussandsculpting.com/chris-guinto/#.X17IImhKjOg) of Key West, Florida.
Although the remaining sculptures did not win a prize, they were still all very impressive. It must have been very hard to select this year’s winners.
Rusty Croft (https://www.rustycroft.com/) of Carmel, California, sculpted “Mood Swing.”
One of my favorites and perhaps one we can relate to was “It’s Overwhelming” by Justin Gordon (https://www.elwindesigns.com/) of Groveland, Massachusetts.
Another popular sculpture was “Squid Pro Quo” by Carl D. Hara (http://www.artcleveland.com/personal.html) from Cleveland, Ohio.
“Lady In Repose” by David Andrews of Wisconsin was one of the more creative sculptures.
Last but certainly not least, perennial competitor and founder of the sand sculpting festival, Greg Grady (https://www.facebook.com/ProfessionalSculptures) sculpted “I Believe.”
Grady also won an award from all of the other sand sculptors. Since Greg helped found the sand sculpting festival some 20 years it has grown in popularity and has been a big boost for the tourism and business industries in the area. For all of his efforts, the other sculptors presented Greg with this trophy.
The theme of the festival was the “Enchanted Land of the Sand.” All of the artists, named the “Grady Bunch” after founder and sculptor Greg Grady, helped created these sculptures. I waited until it got dark and the sculptures were lit up to photograph them. In retrospect I should have waited later. But I did have a long drive ahead of me and it was a long day. Next year I’ll wait a little later though. They do look so much better at night when they are lit up.
Speaking of the night time, the night life at Hampton Beach was vibrant despite some of the bars and clubs being closed. As you may see from the photos, the crowds were sparse compared to previous years.
The city closes down the main street where the sculptures are located and people are free to happily roam the streets. The drivers who are detoured because of this closure don’t share this sentiment I am sure.
The festival is a dog friendly event just not on the beach. At least not until the summer season ends. Bailey, a 1 year old English cream Golden Retriever, and Tucker, a 3 year old Yellow Lab rescue, enjoyed the sand sculptures, even though they were more interested in their treats!
Unfortunately, the sculptures were set to be up only until Sep 13. But, in a clear note of optimism, there has been talk of the next sand sculpture festival being even bigger and better to make up for this off year. See you there!