I’ll always remember the first time I drove into Navarre Beach. I was on Gulf Boulevard, coming from the west, with the top down on my convertible. I passed endless sweeps of sugar sand, on beaches without anyone on them, admiring the sea oats and dunes. I smiled at the pelicans soaring the sea breeze and wondered at the dreamy emerald hue of the surf.
Then the road curved sharply to the north, away from the beach. The turn -- a decidedly new occurrence on Gulf Boulevard -- was marked by a gas station, a restaurant, and a pier, stretching far out over the waves.
I stopped at the beach, took pictures, chatted with fishermen, and wandered down to the shoreline. The beach was a wonder, a wide affair intent on pleasing the eyes and the toes. It was heaped with sand, soft as baby powder and glittering white. The thought came of its own accord: it was the perfect place for a sand sculpting festival.
Apparently others thought the same thing, because that location is now home to the Navarre Beach Sand Sculpting Festival, Sept. 26 –28, 2014. In fact, it turns out the event was founded as a way to showcase the pristine quartz sands of Navarre Beach, home to one of only 10 coastlines in the nation protected as a National Seashore.
This year’s event marks the fifth annual Soft Pack National Championship. There, you can watch nine of the world's top soft sand sculptors compete. In addition to these master sculptors, a limited number of amateur teams will also compete.
You won’t want to miss seeing the 60-ton exhibit sculpture, created by the master sculptors, or "Quick Sand," an audience-participation event in which sculptors go head-to-head for a 10-minute competition and advance to further championship rounds based on audience applause.
The Festival also offers the opportunity to meet the Master Sculptors, sand sculpting demonstrations and lessons, and an amateur contest.
It’s not only kids who like to play in the sand!