Beyond the Bucket: The Great Sand Sculpture Contest

"Literacy" is the theme for the gritty competition's 81st go-around.

Here's an interesting challenge: If you had to sculpt, out of sand, a scene from your very favorite book, what would you choose? Scarlet O'Hara in front of Tara? Darcy and Elizabeth dancing? A Hobbit?

More importantly, could you do it? Or are you of the shovel-and-bucket sand-sculpting school, like most of us?

If you are, you can watch master sand sculptors as they go to town on subject of a literary nature. "Literacy" is, in fact, the theme at the 81st Great Sand Sculpting Contest in Long Beach. Meaning you'll see a few book covers, sure, but you might also see dragons or cityscapes or heroes, sprung directly from the pages of your favorite novel.

All done in sand, of course. Not easy.

The dates are Saturday, Aug. 10 and Sunday, Aug. 11, and "over 40 community teams" will participate. So it won't necessarily be a lone guy chipping away at a creation, but a group of people all working as a unit.

That's interesting, because if you've ever built a sand castle with a loved one, you know seeing eye-to-eye on where turrets and moats should go is sometimes an issue.

What isn't an issue, though? Money raised from the weekend will help literacy programs around Long Beach.

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The teams come in two flavors --  professional and community -- meaning you'll see the full spectrum of sand-sculpting prowess. A number of families will be competing under the community designation, which pre-touches our heart. That's Memory-Making 101 right there, that is.

Where do you go? The Granada Beach Boat Ramp. When? Aug. 10 and 11, as mentioned.

What will you drink? Well, Kool-Aid if you like; that's the contest's sponsor (and, yeah, the Kool-Aid Man will be there, and while we do kind of want to see him burst through a sand sculpture, like he does, we think he'll probably refrain).

What do you bring? A camera, for sure.

Also, count on the sculptures looking far more filled out on Sunday than Saturday, of course.

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