“They arrived on Sunday and they are really eager to jump into this sand,” she says. “They’ve never played with this sand before; all of the sand that they’ve used has been the white or the really light sand that you see on the beaches, so they’re really excited to get in here and pick away and see what their tools can do.”
The sand that comes from the banks of the Peace River is donated by Nels Ostero Sand & Gravel, and is gaining a reputation among carvers for its long-lasting quality. Work on the sand begins long before any carvers actually show, as a “pound up” must be done to prepare it for the competition.
“Before the carvers can actually start their pieces, they have to decide what design and height and shape the structure has to be, and then we create wooden forms and structures and build the sand casings up until the right level and height we need, and then they remove the casings and start carving from those pieces,” says Eisert.
Luckily, Mother Nature has been on their side so far this year, as the rain the region has been experiencing has actually helped with the preparations.
“Last year the pound up took us seven actual days, so we expected it to take us that long this time, and it only took us four days,” Eisert explains. “I think a lot of what helped us was the rain, because it actually moisturized the sand, so we didn’t have to do as much mixing here with our own hands as we did last year.”\
The event kicks off Saturday, July 27, with the family competition at 10 a.m. There are still seven spots available for groups of four, with at least one member 16 years old or younger, which can be registered for by calling the Fort St. John Arts Council at 250-787-2781. The festivities include a sand pit for children to play in, food, and musical entertainment, which will last until 5 p.m., so residents can make their way back to Fort St. John for the Air Show.
The professional carvers will be putting the final touches on their sand masterpieces by Friday, August 2, and the creations will be left up as long as they’re still standing.