Sand sculptors and enthusiasts expected at Hampton Beach this week

Union Leader Correspondent
June 11. 2018 9:31PM
Greg Grady is the organizer of the Master Sand Sculpting Classic held every year at Hampton Beach. It draws in thousands of people and is the unofficial start of the busy summer season in town. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)

Justin Gordon, of Groveland, Mass., works on a sponsor sculpture Monday at Hampton Beach. He has been carving sand since 1978 and started sculpting professionally in 1991 after a lay off from his engineering job. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)

HAMPTON — There is $15,000 in prize money up for grabs at the 18th annual Master Sand Sculpting Classic being held this week at Hampton Beach.

On Monday, sculptors were working on a 100-ton sponsor site made out of sand imported from a quarry in southern New Hampshire.

Organizer Greg Grady would not disclose the name of the business where he gets the sand but did explain why it is better for sand sculpting.

Grady said the sand found on most of Hampton Beach is round and bouncy; the imported sand is flat and can be easily made into a “Texas snowball.”

“If I can hold that sandball in between two fingers and it doesn’t fall apart, it’s carvable sand,” Grady said.

As always, the competition this year is tight.

Kirk Rademaker, of Santa Cruz, Calif., is back for the first time since he competed in 2008.

“He is very busy with commercial jobs in Hollywood,” Grady said.

Rademaker said the only thing Hampton Beach needs to make him feel at home is a roller coaster.

“To come here is to be with family. We eat together, hang out. There’s incredible carvers here,” Rademaker said.

The annual event relies heavily on volunteers to help make sure nobody disrupts the sculptures. Robert Desrosiers of Stratham welcomed those gathered at the site near the Seashell Stage Monday with a smile.

“It’s awesome. You get to meet a lot of different people,” Desrosiers said.

Among those taking photos of the sculptors at work was Judy Seager. She moved from Nashua to Hampton over the weekend.

Seager said she had never seen the contest in person before.

“I couldn’t wait,” Seager said. “I had heard about it and always wanted to come up.”

Grady said the annual contest is the unofficial beginning of summer at the beach. About 100,000 people are expected to turn out over the weekend to see the sculptures.

The Master Solo Competition starts Thursday. On Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. the public can vote for the People’s Choice Award winner.

The awards ceremony will be Saturday at 8 p.m. A special fireworks ceremony is scheduled for 9:30 p.m.

The sculptures will be lighted nightly for viewing until June 27.

For more information, go to

TourismGeneral NewsHampton

Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Facebook Follow our RSS feed
Union Leader app for Apple iPad or Android *
Click to download from Apple Apps StoreClick to download from Android Marketplace
* e-Edition subscription required