The first U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition, where professional and amateur sand carving teams competed in a sandcastle building competition, was organized by a group of Imperial Beach residents in 1980. That year it was estimated that around 30,000 people attended the event. Over time the number has grown to more than 400,000 and the event includes a street festival featuring entertainment, food, arts and crafts, and lots of fun.
At this family-friendly event, visitors could stroll up and down Seacoast Drive, which was closed to traffic for the weekend, and take in everything the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition had to offer. For the 21 and older crowd, the Imperial Beach Boys and Girls Club hosted the Sandcastle Dance. With live music and lots of young people to socialize with, the dance was a wonderful way to start off this fun-filled weekend!
The competition for cash prizes and the street festival began Saturday with vendors, entertainment, food, arts and crafts, and lots of people watching. The Kids-N-Kastles Competition was also held Saturday afternoon and trained representatives for the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition judged all categories. The weekend festivities came to an end when the winners were announced and teams were presented with titles and cash prizes at the awards ceremony.
Sandcastle sculptures were available for viewing until around 4:00 pm when the tide rolled in and leveled the beautifully crafted sculptures in anticipation for next year's event.
Although a summer tradition in Imperial Beach since 1980, organizers announced late 2011 that there would not be a festival/competition in Imperial Beach in 2012. An official statement released by the Board of Directors cited increasing costs and challenges with volunteers, committee members and other resources made the event increasingly difficult to put on by an all-volunteer committee and staff. Hopefully these challenges will be overcome and the sun will shine once again on this amazing event!