23rd Annual Hampton Beach Sand Sculpting Classic – a sight worth seeing

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“Raptor Ryder” 

HAMPTON BEACH, NH – The $25,000 Hampton Beach Sand Sculpting Classic concluded Sunday, though the entries are available for viewing through June 25.

Greg Grady Sr. has been the driving force behind the Classic since its inception. According to him, the composition of the sand and the weather are always key factors.

The typical 200 tons of contest sand are imported from a Hudson quarry. “The sand has to hold together in my hand,” Grady explained. “The sand is the single most important element.”

The common question of “How does it hold together?’ is easily answered. Contestants use a combination of water and Elmer’s Glue that is sprayed onto the sculptures. 

Sand sculpting at the Master level is no day at the beach. The ten Master sculptors in this year’s contest represented seven states and Canada. There are worldwide competitions literally every weekend of the year. Kudos to Grady for attracting the Master competitors.

Grady’s son Greg J. Grady, winner of the 2022 Governor’s Award, competes, but as Grady Sr. explained “He’ll never win.” Grady Sr. serves as a judge. He’s dead serious.

Grady Jr. has traveled all over the world for competitions and as a hire at places such as Richard Branson’s island.” If you dream it, we can sculpt it,” he said. Competitor John Gowdy worked for the White House Commission of Remembrance at the Normandy beaches in France.

Dinosaurs figured heavily in this year’s competition but it’s surprising to know that sculptors start each contest fresh. “I’ve never sculpted the same thing twice,” Grady Jr. explained.

What follows is some of the detail from this year’s competition.

About this Author

John Angelo

John Angelo’s humor has appeared in “Publisher’s Weekly,” “Writer’s Digest,” and “American Bookseller.” He is a frequent contributor to the “New Hampshire Business Review.” For a Christmas concert at his Catholic grammar school, the nuns told him to mouth the words and that he’d better not make a sound under any circumstances.