New Sandcastle Event Named Sun & Sea Festival



Published May 8, 2013 by Imperial Beach Patch.

Imperial Beach’s new sandcastle event set June 30 will be called the IB Sun & Sea Festival—a throwback to a historic Imperial Beach fair.

But funding for future sandcastle events is uncertain, the City Council was told Wednesday.

In March, the Port of San Diego agreed to provide $90,000 for the next three years to get a new competition on its feet, $40,000 of which will be spent this year, but funding after 2013 may not be guaranteed after all.

“The Port does have a budget for this year’s event that causes the event to be held before June 30, which is the end of our fiscal year,” Port of San Diego Community Services Manager Jim Hutzelman told the council.

“Beyond June 30, the Port’s participation in the planning and production is subject to the budget concerns that you heard, the decisions that stand to be made in the near future by the Board of Port Commissioners.”

First established in 1960, the Sun & Sea Festival was a forerunner to the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition.

The last U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition was held in 2011. The annual event drew hundreds of thousands to Imperial Beach ever year until its organizing committee dissolved.

Earlier in the meeting, Port Commissioner Dan Malcolm of Imperial Beach told the council that the Port has a $4.9 million deficit to resolve before the start of the fiscal year July 1.

The Sun & Sea Festival will have no adult competition in 2013 but will include Kids N’ Kastles, a sandcastle competition organized by the Optimist Club of Imperial Beach for about 20 teams, organizers and volunteer committees decided at their meeting last Thursday.

Legendary sandcastle teams Archisand, Sand Squirrels and I.B. Posse will create sand sculptures for an exhibition at the festival.

The Sun & Sea Festival also will have a circus tumbling act, art, local vendors and other family-friendly offerings.

“The Sun & Sea Festival goes back a long time,” said Councilman Bobby Patton. “I think it brings back the roots of IB and I think that’s a great name for it.

“I understand the naming of it really determines the costs for safety and security. If we called it the U.S. Open Sandcastle event, then we’d have a gazillion, tens of thousands of people here, which ups the price.”

Gordon Summer and Kent Trollen, who put together the U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge on the Broadway Pier in downtown San Diego, were contracted by the Port to help organize the Sun & Sea Festival with volunteer committees made up of local residents.

Councilman Ed Spriggs thanked the Port and organizers for keeping sandcastles going since it’s a big part of IB’s identity. But he said he’s concerned that the U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge, now in its second year, will overshadow future sandcastle events in Imperial Beach.

“My biggest concern here is that Imperial Beach’s iconic event is being eclipsed by an event in downtown San Diego in part with the support of our own partners the Port Authority in doing this,” he said.

IB doesn’t need an event with 200,000-400,000 people, but something more modest, he said.

“We certainly hope that the planning that’s taking place now for 2014 … will reflect a return to a more robust event somewhere in that middle range between what we had in the past and what’s essentially a highly miniaturized version that’s tentatively planned for June 30,” Spriggs said.

Upwards of 20,000 people are expected for the Sun & Sea Festival in 2013, Hutzelman told IB Patch.

Volunteers who attended meetings to organize a sandcastle event in March concluded that there isn’t enough time to have a large event or find sponsors, Hutzelman said.

Negotiations with the city and Sheriff’s Department for safety and security services and other details are still being finalized.

Committees will continue to meet in the coming weeks to plan for this year’s event and 2014.

Mayor Jim Janney said he understands Councilman Spriggs’ desire to see the event grow larger, but also understands that Gordon and Summer entered the picture and volunteer committees were established in March and April.

He also thanked the efforts of current organizers, the Port and past and present volunteers for keeping sandcastles in Imperial Beach.

“It’s those folks who worked so hard over the last 20, 30, 40 years that really put that sandcastle nameplate in Imperial Beach and we can’t forget that those were the folks that made it happen,” he said.

Councilwoman Lorie Bragg urged volunteers to incorporate the Sandcastle Ball and Mayor’s Breakfast into future Sun & Sea Festivals.

“Those wrap-around events—they really were the heart and the meat of the matter for locals,” Bragg said.

“You always went to the Sandcastle Ball because you saw everybody that you knew.”

Councilman Patton was concerned about another tradition: When kids waited until high tide waves approached to swallow sand sculptures and proceeded to demolish sandcastles.

“There’s a certain moment… I’ve never quite seen the switch hit, but they all start getting trampled,” he said.

Summer told Patton that tradition would continue.

Previous efforts to revive a sandcastle competition in 2012 led by Julia Simms with San Diego PR and Deric Fernandez with the Kiwanis Club of Imperial Beach had also planned to name a competition the Sun & Sea Festival.

Visit this Topic Page for more articles on the now gone U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition and efforts to bring a new competition to Imperial Beach.

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