A festival-style family event with a non-qualifying doubles sand sculpting competition, music and children’s activities has been officially permitted to entertain at the Holiday Inn on the south end of Estero Island at 6890 Estero Boulevard from March 31 through April 3.
The Fort Myers Beach Town Council unanimously approved “Sand Bash” as a special event at its meeting in early February. This approval follows permitting by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Myers Beach Fire Department and the Department of Environmental Protection agency.
Big C Events President Jason Camp is partnered with Pincher’s Crab Shack Operating Director Grant Phelan (also Big C Events’ chief operating officer), Holiday Inn Owner John Callis, Bonnie Roberts Events’ Bonnie Roberts, Sand Lubbers’ Bill Knight and Brian Wigelsworth and at least two Kiwanis organizations (Beach Kiwanis included) to form a formidable combination of event management/ marketing and advertising; food and beverage; venue; vendors; sand management/ sand artist relationship; and volunteers.
“Obviously, because of timing, we had to do a lot of pre-planning with the proper paperwork, insurance and pre-schedule the sculptors,” said Camp. “Now, we can get a lot more details, information and advertising now that we have final approval and permitting in place.”
Sand Bash will feature nine tandem teams comprised of some of the world’s best Master Sculptors and 10 sand sculptures in all. According to its website (www.sandbash.com), the average carving will be more than two-stories tall with 400 square feet at its base. Camp said there is a $10,000 purse for the sand sculpting part of Sand Bash.
There was some concern among the council members about holding an event in the heart of tourist season due to traffic reasons. Camp said free shuttles from Lover’s Key will help in that regard, but he is pushing for an island community event.
“We have twice as many shuttles as other events with the same scope in the past,” he said. “We’d rather invest in a quality experience and make sure everybody who is coming out to the event is not restricted by delays. We also have auxiliary parking at the corner of U.S. 41 and Bonita Beach Road where people can hop onto the Lee County Tran and head to the Holiday Inn.
“Eighty percent of our marketing advertising focus is to the Beach itself. There are plenty of people here during that time to make it a successful event. We are really concentrating on the foot traffic, people who can bike there and take the Beach trolley.”
Camp said there will be action on site from the previous Saturday through the day before the actual festival. Admission ($8 per day for adult/ free for children under age 5/ $5 for ages 5-17/ $5 for seniors over age 55) will be charged from Thursday, March 31 through Sunday, April 3.
“We’ll also have four-day passes for adults ($20) and kids and seniors ($15), said Camp. “We want to give people something fun to do with live music all day long and masterpieces for them to view and a lot of kids’ activities. The hotels are sold out and the condos are packed.”
Besides all-day musical entertainment and a large children’s activity area, the event is expected to feature demonstrations, evening “quick sand” (10-minute creation) competitions and exhibit sculptures (finished pieces as well as works in progress) to entice those who would like to see a finished product.
Proceeds from the event goes to the Kiwanis organizations, which will act as the main volunteers for the event. Go to www.sandbash.com for more information.
Fact BoxTo Go
March 31 through April 3
Holiday Inn at Estero Island
6890 Estero Boulevard
Fort Myers Beach
$8 for adults
$5 for seniors over 55 and ages 5-17
Free for children under 5