HAMPTON — Mélineige Beauregard took home the top prize and the People’s Choice Award at this year’s Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Classic for her piece titled “I am life.”
“Oh my god this is amazing,” Beauregard said Saturafter winning her third championship at Hampton Beach in four years. “This is an awesome event, and you are always competing against amazing sculptors. It’s awesome just to be here.”
Beauregard, of Captain Cook, Hawaii, was awarded $6,000 for the first place and another $1,000 for the People’s Choice Award.
Her two-sided sculpture shows life on one side and death on the other.
“It’s inspired by the design pattern of the Flower of Life,” Beauregard said of her winning masterpiece. “It’s a pattern that is present in most nature, life, and ourselves.”
One side, she said, “is more like nature, the creations, the flowers and all of the beauty in the world and on the other side is the decay, destruction, and death.”
The three-day contest put on by the Hampton Beach Village District wrapped up Saturday and featured a who’s who of master sand sculptors. The contest was organized by Greg Grady and is in its 22nd year.
Second place, and $4,000, went to Karen Fralich, of Ontario, Canada, for her piece titled “Trolls.”
“I really like to carve fantasy and this is inspired by a story called ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ which is based on a Norwegian play called Peer Gynt,” said Fralich.
“This is part of the story where the Troll King has come upon a lot of treasure and the trolls are obviously really happy about that.”
While other sculptors plan ahead and come in with a vision of what they want to create, the five-time world champion said she likes to just go and “let the sand talk to me and kind of go from there.”
Third place and $3,000 went to Carl Jara, of Lyndhurst, Ohio, for “Entropy” and fourth place and $2,000 went to Rusty Croft, of Carmel, California, for “Transition.”
Jara’s sculpture was about his dad who has dementia. It was a sculpture of a man’s head, hollow inside with picture frames of family memories.
For Croft, his piece was also an emotional one as it was dedicated to his brother, Michael Croft, who died last year from COVID-19 at the age of 53.
Croft, who starred in the Travel Channel’s TV show “Sand Masters,” was also awarded the Sculptor’s Choice Award, which is voted on by those competing in the contest.
Taking home the Governor’s Award, selected by Gov. Chris Sununu, and securing a spot in next year’s contest was Greg Grady Jr. for his piece titled “Wyvern Whisperer.” It showed a two-legged dragon being fed a bone by a superhero boy.
“This piece was made for my son,” Grady Jr. said. “He wanted a dragon. He’s going to be 5 in August and he loves superheroes.”
Heartbreak on the sand
Abe Waterman, who came in first place in last year’s contest, failed to place this year after his sculpture collapsed Saturday with just five minutes left in the contest.
The audience gasped, went silent, and then gave him a round of applause when he held his hands up and just shrugged it off.
Waterman’s piece titled “Hierarchy of Needs” showed a woman on a cellphone ignoring a baby who was dead on the ground. The writing on the base of the sculpture stated, “follow me on #dead.”
“It was just a commentary that we are more involved in social media than you are with your surroundings and the people around you,” Waterman said.
Waterman said the astronomical high tide from the night before reached the base of the sculpture and may have played a role in the collapse.
“The bottom of my sculpture was still wet which made it not as structurally sound,” he said. “It’s unfortunate. I like to see the piece finished and to have a final product. But at the end of the day, it is only sand. There are greater travesties that happen in the world than some sand falling down.”
Also suffering a major collapse was Bruce Phillips, of San Diego, California, who saw a section of his sculpture collapse on the first day of the contest.
“I recovered and basically sculpted a version of what I was already sculpting,” he said. “It happens. We are pushing the limits. If you don’t push the limits, you don’t know what you can do.”
The piece titled “Linked” was supposed to be 11 feet tall but after the collapse ended up at 8 feet tall.
“Basically it kind of represents people and working together for a common goal,” Phillips said of the sculpture that showed different sizes and shapes of links. “If you work together you have strength like links in a chain. But as soon as one fails, things break up and things go south.
Other sculptures included Chris Guinto’s “Primal, which showed a Spinosaurus, and John Gowdy’s “Knowledge is limited.” Imagination encircles the world.”
“I love Albert Einstein,” Gowdy said. “I love his quotes. One of his quotes is ‘Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.’ I just wanted to adapt my sculpture to that.”
Justin Gordon, from Groveland, Massachusetts, said his sculpture was inspired by a woman he danced with who cried to the song “Let There Be Peace On Earth.”
“The song just stuck in my head and would not go away,” he said.
The sculpture, named after the song, shows an old sad man holding a dove in his hands.
“The dove is life and let there be peace,” he said.
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Sculptures to be on display until June 26
This is Beauregard’s third win at Hampton Beach.
Beauregard said she learned the art of sand sculpting from her father.
“I just got the flame and carried it on,” Beauregard said.
Beauregard said she came into the competition with a “vague idea” behind her winning sculpture.
“But there was also a lot in the moment,” she said. “I’m happy it’s done and didn’t collapse.”
Beauregard said she is going to celebrate her win with rest and a cup of wine.
“And then it’s on to the next one (sculpture and contest),” she said, and “to try and do something different and better.”
Prior to the three-day contest, sculptors worked on the sponsor site with the theme being “The Greatest Show in Sand.” The circus-themed site included an elephant, lion, seal and more.
The sculptures will remain on the beach, illuminated at night, until June 26.