“Once Upon A Time,” the Best of Show Overall Winner, transformed damp sand into a storybook with a whimsical castle emerging from atop | Photos by Joyelle Ronan

Saturday morning, several teams gathered at Isle of Palms — with rakes, molds, water bottles and other innovative tools in hand — to show-off their sand sculpting skills for the 34th annual Piccolo Spoleto Sand Sculpting Competition. While sculptors tediously worked on their masterpieces, many strolled along the beach to admire and take photos of their works-in-progress. 

The event involved 4 categories: Adut, Young Adult, Family and Children. The top three sculptures in each category were recognized at the end of each competition, while prizes for Best Architecture, Most Creative, and Best Overall were also awarded. This year’s contenders demonstrated their creativity with pun-inspired sculptures, pop-culture references, bright colored sand, and more. A massive storybook carved into the Isle of Palms sand with a whimsical fairytale castle emerging from its pages caught the eye of many beach-goers, earning Best Overall for this year’s competition. 

An imprint of Wile E. Coyote from the “Road Runner Show” won Second Place in the adult category
A team from the Family Category transformed a massive mound of sand into the Pokémon species called Snorlax
“Vintage Since 1978,” a sculpture of an old-timey Volkswagen Beetle won First Place in the adult category
Team Pun Daddy won 1st in the Creative category. The sculpture included a massive seal with a check mark engraved into the sand beneath it with the label “Seal of Approval”
“Coach Potato-pus,” won second place in the Creative category. On top of a life-size sand couch, an octopus is relaxing with a La Croix in tentacle
Several teams, including team Rainbow Row, colorized their sand sculptures with food color or spray paint detail
Friends, neighbors and classmates Caroline Mairs (left) and Sophie Kate Slothiver (right) used shells and green food coloring to decorate their sculpture “Island Tails” that won First Place in the kid’s category
Ryder Auld adds shells as a finishing touch to “Feeling Fintastic” which won Second Place in the kid’s category
Sand sculptor Lauren Lambie molds the top portion of an octopus sculpture that was a contender in the Adult category

Natalie Rieth and Joyelle Ronan are arts journalism graduate students at Syracuse University.

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