Every year, nearly 20,000 people visit Sandy Hook Beach to view the artwork. (archives)
The Îles-de-la-Madeleine will find those who like to play in the sand this summer. In August, the sandcastle contest will return to Sandy Hook beach.
Frenzy and excitement are on the agenda for Brigitte Boudreau, the event's general manager for eleven years. For the 36th edition of what is dubbed the largest amateur sandcastle competition in the world, it expects to welcome around 20,000 people.
Considering that 12,000 people live in the Islands, this short window starting on the second weekend of August represents the peak of tourism for the region according to the general manager.
One of the works of the 33rd Islands Sandcastle Competition in 2019. (File photo)
The builders are only allowed the natural elements of the beach to build unlike other competitions which allow the use of glue or oil to work on the details and fight against the force of the tides which engulf the structures. /p>
“We only use water and sand, the raw materials of the Islands, and let Mother Nature take care of the rest. We already had 55 castles on the beach and that same evening, a rain mist swallowed them all up.
— Brigitte Boudreau
Sculptor Patricia Leguen adds detail to a sand sculpture of a turtle. In 2017 in Germany, she is part of a team that will set the new Guinness record for the tallest sandcastle. (File photo)
The rules are simple, but the work is hard. The craftsmen have a few hours, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Saturday to erect a sand structure. The day before the competition in the evening, the teams can have as many shovelers as they wish to prepare their reserve of sand for the next day.
The jury then deliberates, evaluating the criteria of originality, technique and complexity. At the awards ceremony, everyone is burned, but everyone is happy! It can happen that they work under the big sun at 28 degrees, the poor!, she laughs.
Despite the cancellation of the face-to-face event due to the pandemic, the organization has managed to do well by attracting more than 50,000 Internet users over the past two summers. 28 teams participated in 2020 while there were 18 in 2021, which is understandable considering that we had already been behind our computers for more than a year, informs Brigitte Boudreau.
There were even two Mexican teams that tuned into the festival live from Mexico. This international connection pleasantly surprised Brigitte Boudreau. Year in and year out, between 40 and 50 teams, i.e. around 500 builders, compete amicably on the beach of the archipelago.
The This year's theme is “Reunions!” because of the last two years living virtual. (File photo)
If sanitary measures prevented the event from being held on the Madelinoise beaches once again, the organization would have simply canceled the contest in all its forms this summer, which would have been a first in 36 years. The virtual version was intended to help us out to allow those who are not lucky enough to be present on site to taste the experience of sand castles.
The competition takes place from August 12 to 14 at Sandy Hook Beach in Havre-Aubert.