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30 years of sand art celebrated at City Beach

Lydia Coutré • Jul 21, 2015 at 10:59 AM

“We’ve always competed in these things, but this year we thought we’d just celebrate the event itself and just say thank you for all the fun times we’ve had down here,” said John Gork, member of The Beach Guys team.

Their work, titled “Memories in the Sand,” took second place in the team category.

The teams competed in six categories — team, family, children, child, individual and castle. Participants had two hours to sculpt their masterpiece before judging.

“I thought it was a really huge success,” said Courtney Olson, event organizer and program and event support coordinator for the Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven-Spring Lake-Ferrysburg. “I mean we were all the way past the Bil-Mar (restaurant) of just sculpture after sculpture after sculpture, so it was a lot of fun just filling the whole City Beach with sculptures.”

Slipping Tripping Hazards took home the People’s Choice Award for their creation of “iPad 2,” which showed two large frogs — one sitting on a lily pad and the other on a sand iPad.

“When you win the People’s Choice, you know that you sculpted it well enough that they could understand what it was about, and that’s really nice,” said team member Bill Boerman-Cornell.

Boerman-Cornell said the name Slipping Tripping Hazards came from signs on the pier warning of its dangers. He and two friends he has known from middle school have been coming to the competition since 1983 with a variety of people. Boerman-Cornell makes the trip from Chicago every summer to participate in the Sand Sculpture Contest.

“It’s neat to see how when you bring a group together, they’re able to do more than what you could do on your own,” Boerman-Cornell said. “So none of us are really artists — but when we all work together, we can do some cool stuff.”

He said their kids and relatives have started to help out, which has created a second team: Slipping Tripping Hazards Jr.

“It changes a little bit, but it’s always the same three families,” Boerman-Cornell said.

Iris Manton came from Indianapolis for the weekend to see the Sand Sculpture Contest and other weekend activities.

“I think it’s really impressive,” she said. “Very creative and a lot of hard work, and really neat for my 3-year-old to see.”

Olson said the contest is a great thing for the community.

“We’re all coming together and having fun on a Saturday afternoon in June,” she said. “It kind of builds community — not only within Grand Haven, but also (in) families — and people use this as a reunion.”

Bob Lang, member of The Dudes and Dudettes, helped construct “Sunday on la Grande Haven” — an interpretation of George Seurat’s dot painting, “Sunday on La Grande Jatte.” The entire creation, which Lang said was more of a painting than a sculpture, was a series of small cylindrical piles of sand. Together they depicted the lighthouse on the water.

“We love the camaraderie,” Lang said. “We love the idea of trying to make something huge, artistic, maybe impressionistic, maybe in the news or newsy. This one we just went for something different. … It’s either going to be a great success or a great failure.”

Lang said his team has been competing for 29 years.

“We’ve got all ages and different groups coming in,” he said. “(We) always have a ton of fun. ... We’d like to say we’re in 30 years, but not quite.”

To see the photo gallery from the event, click here.

Awards for the Sand Sculpture Contest:

Child’s Category of 1 participant under 12 years old

First place: Alexandra Stoika for “Teddy Bear”

Second place: Sarah Obermeyer for “Snap”


Children’s Category with 2-7 participants under 12 years old

First place: Team She Shells (Dominnique Christian, Bridget Klaes, Chole Warmoth and Dali Woodard) for “Girl Eating Fish”

Second place: Team Sunbathing Buddies (Mary McGinnis, Gavin Tenbrucke, Madison Steggles and Jordanne Ellingboe) for "Bunny"

Third place: Team Castle Kings (Ben Hylen, Andrew Hylen and Alex Girard)


Individual’s Category of 1 participant 12 years or older

First place: Sand Pirate and artist Janet Schroder for her mermaid, lighthouse and 30th annual Sand Sculpture logo

Second place: Art West for his 30th annual Sand Sculpture logo

Third place: Danno of San-Man-Dan for “Freeze Frame”


Family’s Category of 2-7 participants of all ages

First place: Sand Carvers (Kevin DiMeglio, Tom DiMeglio, Emily DiMeglio, Claire DiMeglio, Joe Nowakowski, Deanna Nowakowski and Michelle Kapa) for "Acme, Roadrunner and Coyote"

Second place: DeGraaf family (Becky DeGraaf, Nik DeGraaf, Rachael Heyboer, Nick Heyboer, Jamie DeGraaf, Jim DeGraaf, and Lily DeGraaf) for "Angry Birds Game"

Third place: Obermeyer Family (Bryan, Beth, John, Daine and Tony Obermeyer) for "Lighting McQueen"


Team’s Category of 8 participants or more 12 years or older

First place: Team Plante + Moran (Jodi Rothaenthaler, Art Boterenbrood and kids, Jerry Joncheere and kids, Jen Taylor, Safia Bana, Patrick Colunga, Young Kim, Julie Kim, and Krista Helder) for "The Very Hungry Caterpillar"

Second place: The Beach Guys (John Gork, Russ King, Jim Stark, Jerry Defrell, Eric Nisja, Ben Chastaine, Gary Passon and Katie Parks) for “Memories in the Sand,” a 30th annual Sand Sculpture Contest logo

Third place: Team SandCastle Warriors (Raina Khatri, Daniel McNeel, Amanda Leigh, Matthew Leigh, Jess Bernot, Amanda Zimmerman and Josh Gele) for their tribute to "Star Wars"


Castle Category is devoted solely to the creation of sand castles. Teams could be made up of any age and any number of members specializing in castles.

First place: Beach Sandsations (Paul Speulstra, Brian Brunsting, Ingrid Speulstra, Julie Brunsting, Adam Brunsting, Deanna Brunsting, Payton Speulstra and Simon Speulstra)

Second place: Paul Kiefer from Kiefer’s Kastles.

Third place: Team Nass (Ethan, Carl and Jodi Nass)


People’s Choice Award: Slipping Tripping Hazards for “iPad 2.”

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