On Vancouver Island, for a month between mid-July and mid-August, you’ll find the photographic feast that is the sand sculptures of Parkville Beach. The sculptures are a part of the Sand Sculpting Competition & Exhibition and is a big tourist draw for Parksville. This year’s event brought 90,194 visitors to the beach.

After arriving on the island, it was so beautiful and sunny that we decided to do a detour to the beach as one of our roadside stops to check out the designs and vote for our favourites.

The competition is one of the qualifying events that leads into the Sand Sculpting World Championships in Florida. This means that the quality of sculpture that you see in Parksville is pretty amazing. This year there seemed to be a huge bias towards fantasy with wizards, knights, dragons, a grim reaper, dream sequences, and a mermaid or two. And as we wandered through the eye popping designs it was hard to pick which sculptures to vote for.

So, how do they keep the sculptures from falling apart during rain and wind? I think that’s the first question that everyone asks on the way into the fenced area. The sand is initially packed so hard in pre-made enclosures that it’s almost like cement. From this the artist carves their design. After the sculpting is done, a mixture of white glue and water is sprayed to keep them together. The wires sticking out of the top of the sculptures keep birds from landing and pooping.