8th annual festival, castle sculpting contest is in Hanalei Saturday

HANALEI — Up until 2009, Julian Miller noticed three things about Kauai. One, there are no seagulls. Two, there isn’t that much seaweed. And third, where were all the sand castles?

“I would mention this to people and they would say that is really odd,” Miller said. “There was so much sand, so many talented artists here, but no sand sculptures.”

About eight years ago, Miller took matters into his own hands.

“I was walking on the beach up in Hanalei and ranting about that there were no sand castles, and the person I was with looked at me and just said, ‘why don’t you do it?’” he said. “I knew nothing about the whole thing, but I didn’t want to be that guy who just complains about that stuff and does nothing about it.”

After dozens of phone calls to the county and the mayor’s office regarding permits to host a sand castle competition, Miller was met with road block: They weren’t allowed.

“(DLNR) said absolutely not,” he said. “Apparently there was a law about it in Hawaii. But he called me back a couple of days later and said they were willing to do an experiment with it, and ever since we’ve held the competition there.”

The Hawaii Sand Festival & Sand Castle Sculpture Contest will take place this Saturday to the left of Hanalei Pier, where friends and family can design and build a sculpture on their own, or with a team.

What was once a simple observation has become a big part of the community.

“The first year we did it, I wasn’t sure how many people would come,” Miller said. “But ultimately, over 200 people showed up.”

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the competition is free and open to the public with prizes and awards for the best designs. It is recommended that those interested in participating carpool to avoid parking problems.

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