The News hosting sand castle challenge

ALPENA – The Alpena News is hosting the 2013 Sand Castle Contest July 4 at Starlight Beach. Competitors can start registering at 8 a.m. and have until 3 p.m. to complete their entries before judging starts, said Advertising Manager Laura Lancewicz. In previous years, the event was handled by the Downtown Development Authority.

“It’s just a fun community event and The News stepped forward to keep it up,” she said.

This year the competition is divided into two divisions: one is for teams of one to two builders; the other for three or more builders. Participants are allowed to use shovels, buckets and human power, Lancewicz said. However, mechanical power is barred.

Although labeled a sand castle competition, past participants have created a pod of swimming dolphins, cars, an octopus, a mother gorilla and her baby and other sculptures, piling, packing and wetting the sand into shape.

The three-judge panel is looking for originality; the use of natural resources; shape and artistic form, Lancewicz said. Extra credit is given for the use of natural materials, such as drift wood, seaweed and stones in a creative way. Size and shape also are important, especially if the finished work reflects a lot of time and effort.

Winners receive $100 for first place, $50 for second and $25 for third, and those who nab top prizes will have their names listed in the newspaper the following day, she said.

Lancewicz said The News is also offering People’s Choice Voting this year to raise funds for the city’s 2014 fireworks display. Each vote is $1 and the winning team will receive a $30 Arby’s gift card.

Jackie Krawczak, executive director of the Alpena Chamber of Commerce, remembers competing with a team of her siblings more than 12 years ago.

“We always had a well-planned out design that sometimes we would practice in advance, and we placed every year,” she said.

One of her family’s best entries was a sand sculpture of a truck pulling a jeep out of a muddy bog.

“We had a bucket, a watering can, a couple shovels and that was pretty much it,” she said.

Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at blehndorff@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.