Building sand castles

HANALEI — Dolphins, crabs and mermaids … oh my.

Those were just some of the sand sculptures found on Black Pot Beach Saturday during the 7th annual Hawaii Sand Festival and Sand/Sculpture Castle Contest.

The contest, started by Julian Miller and Jeff Peterson, attracted about 300 people of all ages and skill sets to try their hands at building the perfect sand sculpture.

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., teams of families, adults and children picked a spot on Black Pot Beach and got to work shoveling sand and collecting water.

Some, like Lana Shea, were no strangers to the contest.

The Haena resident has been entering for the last four years.

“I love the keiki fun,” she said. “My daughter is 8, and she has a lot of fun, running around and looking for her friends.”

Shea said she tries to build something different every year.

On Saturday, she was creating a crop circle in the sand by following a print-out.

“I love the whole concept of doing something unique,” she said. “I try to do something big, but it can be hard with the little ones running around.”

There were also several newcomers to the competition on Saturday. Mia and Bri Chackley, a mother-daughter team from Kapaa, were among them.

Mia Chackley said she came to the contest to help her boss, Peterson, to set up.

“But it looked like a lot of fun, so we decided to stay and build a sculpture,” Chackley said.

But because they weren’t planning to stay, they came unprepared, and had to borrow extra tools, like plastic knives, from Peterson.

The duo, who have no previous sand sculpture building experience, decided to fashion a crab out of the sand.

“I Googled easy sand castles, and this is what came up,” Mia Chackley said.

Bri Chackley added: “It was our idea, and we ran with it.”

Being in the sand, and building a sculpture, was cathartic, Mia Chackley said.

“I knew Jeff (Peterson) liked to build sand castles, but I didn’t understand the appeal until today,” she said.

Neal Mathur of Kilauea was also a contest newbie.

“I would always walk upon the contest during my walks on the bay, but I never heard about it until this year,” he said.

Other than building sand castles with his children, Mathur said he doesn’t have any experience in sand sculpting.

For his sculpture, Mathur built a mermaid sitting on rocks. A family friend, Mikaela Luoma, played the part of the mermaid, and Mathur fashioned a tail for her.

To add detail, he used a bottle cap as a stencil to give the tail the appearance of scales.

“It seems like texture is what wins the competition,” he said.

The competition was judged by four local artists — Angela Tillson, Courtney Puig, Betty Jean Natavio and Randy Chongolio — who judged the sculptures based on criteria such as quality, creativity, challenge level and appeal.

The event was made possible by donations from local businesses including Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, Princeville Botanical Garden, Hanalei Gourmet, The Cliffs, Ace Hardware and Ocean Front Realty.

Winners will be announced Monday.

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