PORTER | Dragons, monsters, and fairytale characters came to the Indiana Dunes State Park on Saturday morning for the 16th annual Sand Sculpture Contest.
Some 40 teams entered the contest, and according to Brad Bumgardner, interpretive naturalist for the Indiana Dunes State Park, that number is a record high.
“We thought we had a record number last year and now we’ve topped that. I think that it’s because of word of mouth because we never seem to have bad weather for this event. But I had people calling all week asking when we were having it,” he said.
Sierra Rose Eaves, 10, of Porter, and her two sisters, Cheyenne, 8, and Destiny, 6, came to try their hand at sand creation, although she said it didn’t go as planned.
“It was just a big lump. It was supposed to be a castle, but we got here late and no one wanted to do it anymore because it got too hot,” she said, laughing.
The sculptures lined the shore as thousands of visitors walked among the entries, including Jane Larson of Chesterton who said her family decided to come down for the day just to see the event.
“It’s incredible! They’re amazing pieces of art. I feel like I should just sit here and guard it,” Larson said, sitting next to the first place winner, a giant fairytale castle built by a team calling themselves Beach Sandsations of Jenison, Mich.
Second place was a dragon mixed with fairytale characters made by Team Bianco of Chesterton, and third place was a Salvador Dali-inspired melting clock from Team Stephanie and the Sons of Beaches from Portage.
Other entries included American flags, dolphins, and Mike Wozowski and the builders brought out carts of equipment, such as heavy-duty water sprayers, plastic sheets, steel shovels, trowels, and sleds.
Janet Moore Schrader came from Michigan to build a giant monster head in the sand, although she didn’t officially enter the contest because she is a professional sand sculptor and teaches classes to kids and even corporate clients.
“I love this. As a kid I always loved going to the beach with my family and now I get to get paid to play in the sand,” she said and passersby withdrew their camera phones from their beach bags to remember the display after the waves have washed them away.