Think about building a sand castle and I'll bet it takes you right back to your childhood. On many beaches across the U.S., however, sand-sculpting is not child's play, but a serious, competitive event where master sculptors create dimensional vignettes from sand and water that would blow your mind.
For over two decades on the first Saturday of every June, Galveston Beach hosts the AIA SandCastle Competition. There are many big sand art competitions worldwide that draw master sculptors who work all year to perfect their sandy skills, but this event has a twist: the AIA (American Institute of Architects) pits teams of architects, designers, and engineers against each other for the coveted prize: the prestigious Gold Bucket Award.
This year marked the 26th annual competition and 62 teams shoveled, molded, sprayed and sculpted their way towards a big win. For Galveston, it's one of their biggest crowd-drawing events, second only to Mardi Gras.
So what happens when teams of highly-skilled architects and engineers trade their drafting tables and computer programs for sticks and shovels They make some pretty incredible sand sculptures! Judges rated the sand castles on originality of concept, artistic execution, technical difficulty, carving technique, and utilization of the site. The first-place winners were the Matrix Spencer Architects team, with their masterpiece "Bedtime Stories by Mr. Sandman."
Some of the other big annual sand castle competitions on the Texas Gulf Coast include the Port Aransas Sand Fest in April and South Padre Island's Sand Castle Days in September. If you're visiting the Gulf Coast during these months, definitely include one of these sand castle contests in your itinerary. And if not, you can always take a sand castle lesson from one of the pros. Maybe you'll be competing next year!