International sand sculptures are making their way to the Oceanfront for this competition

Sand sculpture masterpieces await guests at the Neptune Festival's International Sand Sculpting Championship. (Southside Daily/Courtesy of Neptune Festival)
Sand sculpture masterpieces await guests at the Neptune Festival’s International Sand Sculpting Championship. (Southside Daily/Courtesy of Neptune Festival)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Annual Neptune Festival events are in full swing, but one major weekend when international “master sand sculptors” from countries as far as Lithuania and South Korea will create marvels right here on the Oceanfront is quickly approaching.

From Sept. 23 through Sept. 26, more than 30 competitors from all over the globe will transform sand into masterful sculptures at Neptune’s Land of Sand, between 6th and 8th streets, for the annual Sand Sculpting Championship. 

“The International Sand Sculpting Championship is one of the most highly anticipated signature events of the Neptune Festival’s Annual Boardwalk weekend,” officials said in a news release.

The football field length tent is opening for the public to view finished sculptures, meet the artists, and take photos at the start of the Neptune Festival’s Annual Boardwalk weekend on Sept. 27, and will stay open through Oct. 6.

Admission to view is $5 but children 12 and younger are free.

RELATED STORY: It’s that time — Here’s a sneak peek of this year’s Neptune Festival

Those interested in learning from master sand sculptors can also take advantage of free hands-on sand clinics during Boardwalk weekend where they’ll provide the sand and the tools — participants only need to show up before class starts.

Latvia’s Karlise Ile is returning after earning the Neptune’s Choice award and the first place title for his “Worshippers of Points” piece in 2018.

"Worshipers of Points" by Karlis Ile wins the top prize and Neptune's Choice award in the 2018 International Sand Sculpting Championships. (Southside Daily/Courtesy of Neptune Festival)
“Worshipers of Points” by Karlis Ile wins the top prize and Neptune’s Choice award in the 2018 International Sand Sculpting Championships. (Southside Daily/Courtesy of Neptune Festival)

But this year, Ile is joining forces with fellow-Latvian artist, Maija Puncule, to pursue yet another notch in their collaborative belt.

According to the Neptune Festival’s website, Puncule and Ile have tag-teamed projects since about 2010 and, “together, they have won many awards at ice, snow, and sand sculpture festivals around the world: Japan, China, Russia, Canada, Switzerland, and Germany.”

New Jersey native John Gowdy earned the People’s Choice award for his work “When Loved Ones Become Treasured Memories” in 2018. He said he considers Virginia Beach a second home as he’s been competing at the Neptune Festival for more than 25 years.

He’ll be back again this year.

"When Loved Ones Become Treasured Memories" by John Gowdy wins the People's Choice award in the 2018 International Sand Sculpting Championships. (Southside Daily/Courtesy of Neptune Festival)
“When Loved Ones Become Treasured Memories” by John Gowdy wins the People’s Choice award in the 2018 International Sand Sculpting Championships. (Southside Daily/Courtesy of Neptune Festival)

Other Neptune events happening or coming up include:

More details about all of these events can be found here.

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