Ertel presents ‘The Sand Castle’ program at Six and Twenty meeting


The Six and Twenty Club met Friday, May 12 at the Murphy Theatre’s Charlie’s Place at 2:15 p.m. Susan Ertel was both hostess and program leader for the afternoon. Following the traditional roll call with quotations and the reading of the previous meeting minutes, Ertel was introduced as the program leader.

Ertel began by briefly discussing her 2023 club book titled, “The Sand Castle,” by author and illustrator Mark P. Robertson. The Sand Castle is a beautifully illustrated children’s book that tells a tale about a young boy who learns to appreciate the simple joys of being a child. He spends a perfect day at the beach building sandcastles. And who doesn’t enjoy being at the beach creating magic art in the sand?

Ertel then told members that they were going to spend the afternoon at the beach through her program. Every November, Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota, Fla. transforms into an outdoor art gallery by hosting the Siesta Key Crystal Classic International Sand Sculpting Festival. For four days, master sand sculptors from across the globe unite and compete for thousands of dollars and champion titles. Whether you are a Sarasota native or a Siesta Key vacationer, this event has been a must see since 2010 when it began.

The festival creator and sand coordinator is Brian Wigelsworth, a Sarasota resident and master sand sculptor. Wigelsworth has a long background in commercial design and illustration and applies it well to his creations in sand. He can turn a plain pile of sand into amazing works of art. Wigelsworth and other sand sculptors create over 15 masterpieces from the pristine white quartz beach sand which make the sculptures look like marble.

There are eight teams of two sand sculptors each and also eight solo artists competing. They have three eight hour days and one five hour day to create and complete their sculptures. The professional contest is judged by a panel from the distinguished Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota. Throughout the weekend event, the public is invited to admire the sculptures. The community is invited to vote for their favorite sculpture which receives the People’s Choice award. At sunset the sand sculptures are illuminated with a colored light display.

Ertel passed photographs of the sand sculptures throughout her program She discussed how the right type of sand is crucial to create these large professional sculptures and it impacts the lifespan of a sand sculpture.

Ertel briefly shared the steps of how to “Build a Sandcastle 101” for both amateur and professional builders. She talked about sand compaction building steps, construction and carving techniques. The Siesta Key Crystal Classic awakens the inner child in us all building a sandcastle. It provides beauty and wonder and a bit of sand magic on the beach.

Ertel had each table centered with a sand pail and shovel filled with colorful pinwheels. She served lemon, strawberry, orange and chocolate cake pops with ice cream cups following the meeting.

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