Olympia’s popular summer sand-sculpting event, Sand in the City, is being replaced by a summer-long program of events.
Summer Splash, the new festival, is being created to expand the programming from one weekend in August to the entire season, according to Hands On Children’s Museum executive director Patty Belmonte. The museum has hosted Sand in the City each August for 15 years as a major fundraiser.
“That sounds exciting,” said Vida Zvirzdys-Farler, executive director of the Olympia Downtown Association. “It sounds like a great way to get people into downtown Olympia.”
The monthly themes for Summer Splash are: “Children’s China” in June; “Sand, Forts & Water Adventures” in July; and “Pirates & Parrots” in August.
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Master sand carvers will return for a three-day demonstration in July, according to the museum.
“I think it’s great that they’re taking a chance at change, and exploring other ways of promoting themselves,” Zvirzdys-Farler said.
The reason for the change: Sand in the City had become so popular that it caused the museum to shift resources to the event, rather than other hands-on learning activities, Belmonte said.
“It was taking more of our energy, time and financial resources to focus on putting on a great festival,” Belmonte said. “It felt a little bit like we were losing the ability to share our art and learning opportunities with the community.”
Sand in the City typically attracted 25,000-35,000 visitors in a weekend.
“With three months of new themes featuring guest performers, artists, events and new activities, we hope the festival will attract visitors to the region throughout June, July and August,” Jocelyn McCabe, president of the museum’s board of directors, said in a news release.
The summer themes were chosen to take advantage of the outdoors, Belmonte said. During August, a pirate ship will be set up for a week.
“Kids will be able to learn the historical perspective of pirate ships, and see one, and learn about parrots,” Belmonte said. “We love the live animal component of this particular show.”
Money raised through Sand in the City was used to support free and reduced-cost programs at the museum throughout the year. Belmonte said that all of the Sand in the City sponsors have signed on for Summer Splash.
“We think in the end, we will have more funding to put to free and reduced programs; it’s more cost effective,” she said.
And the museum will continue to host the Friday gala associated with the Sand in the City event, she said.
She added that Summer Splash will give visitors more choices about when to visit the museum.
Hands on Children’s Museum
▪ 414 Jefferson St. NE, Olympia