As a sand version of the famous Iwo Jima flag raising begins to tower over Revere Beach – a tribute to veterans – organizers are preparing to welcome 15 master sculptors and hundreds of thousands of spectators to Revere this week and weekend for the Revere Beach National Sand Sculpting Festival.
The Festival on Revere Beach began with initial preparation early this week as master sculptors began arriving in town to work on the centerpiece sculpture, which will be a tribute to veterans of the military.
In light of that, a special opening ceremony for veterans will take place on Friday night at 7:45 p.m. with Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo – who will lead the kickoff of the weekend festivities.
Sculpting coordinator Meredith Corson, of Sanding Ovations, said the professional competition – which begins on Wednesday – will feature 15 of the best sculptors in the world. Seven of them will be new to the Revere competition, now in its 11th year.
“We brought in some big guns this year,” she said Monday. “We had an increase in our budget for travel so we can bring in some of these other sculptors from far away. Sandsculpting has really taken off worldwide. It’s like any other sport. There are levels of talent. These are the masters. This is not your tipped up back on the beach. People do this for a living. They are artists. It’s not unlike a baseball team. They have amateurs; they have different levels of the farm team and then they have the pro team. People are going to be seeing the pros here. Maybe Revere Beach has become a little spoiled because we’ve had some top sculptors here every year.”
One of the reasons why is that there is such a crowd, the prize money is rather large and there is a generous appearance stipend. Beyond that, sculptors love the sand – which is shipped in from a rock quarry in New Hampshire.
“Revere has something very unique,” she said. “Revere has amazing sand. This sand is amazing for sculpting. We wish we could have it at every event we go to.”
The sculptor that everyone has their targets on is Jonathan ‘Jobi’ Bouchard, who has won the competition four years in a row and is an odds-on crowd favorite.
Corson said they have brought in some new sculptors that they believe can challenge Jobi for the title – though he is fresh off winning the title in the Atlantic City competition.
She highlighted Pavel Milinkov from Moscow and JooHeng Tan from Singapore as newbies to watch out for.
Abe Waterman, Helena Bangert and Hanneke Supply are also talented sculptors who could break out.
One late scratch from the competition is crowd favorite Sue McGrew, who had a scheduling conflict at the last minute that forced her out of the competition. Brought in to replace her is Melineige Beauregard, a frequent doubles partner with Jobi.
“He will, in fact, be competing against the sculptor – Jobi – that he just won the doubles championship with in Atlantic City,” said Corson. “That should add some drama.”
There are also the returning sculptors such as Dan Doubleday, Benjamin Probanza and Dan Belcher who cannot be looked over. Any one of them are capable of blasting out of the pack and finding victory.
The other sculptors not mentioned are Rusty Croft, Chris Guinto, Walter McDonald, Guy-Olivier Deveau (who just won at Hampton Beach), Abe Waterman and Marianne van den Broek.
Jobi has already said to the paper that he had hoped to unveil a new technique in Revere this year that nobody has seen. At the time of that interview, he was still working out the engineering of the secret technique and said he may or may not go forward with it.
Even so, his comments have brought some intrigue to Revere Beach, as the sculptors are watching carefully to see if he will unveil something new or work on a another version of his hollowed-out concept.
“It’s up to Jobi to maintain what he’s going to do,” said Corson. “We’re all watching to see what he’ll do. You take a risk when you try something new. You run the risk of it not working out, but if it works, it’s well-received by the other sculptors. That’s something the public doesn’t understand. They see the judge’s choices and wonder why they chose certain sculptures. They don’t know the sculpting technique, the engineering and the planning that goes into these pieces. That, however, is why we have a People’s Choice award.”
Beyond the competition, the Festival will also feature live music on a main stage. There will be a Kid Zone and also a Food Truck Festival – as well as numerous treats from the local businesses on the Beach.
The sculptors will end their carving by 3 p.m. on Saturday.
The awards ceremony will take place on Saturday evening, along with several musical acts.
Fireworks from two barges will be just after dusk on Saturday night.
For more information go online at www.nationalsandsculptingfestival.com.