As folks cling to the last few weeks of summer, Olympia’s annual Sand in the City is in full swing — swing of the shovels, that is.
Hands On Children’s Museum has been hard at work getting ready to host the event with 30,000 people, 140 cubic yards of sand, and roughly 100 volunteers.
Held at the museum this year instead of at Percival Landing, the event has something for all ages, including about 40 free activities. Museum admission is also reduced to $5.50.
Under white tents attendees will find a giant sand castle for painting, make-and-take-home craft activities, and of course, giant sand sculptures.
The sculptures won’t be judged by an official team of judges this year, but rather by a public vote in which anyone can donate a dollar and pick their favorite entry.
Donations will go to the museum’s free- and reduced-admissions programming, which serves 76,000 children and families with museum admission, summer camps and field trips.
The sculptures are built by teams and companies. It’s the first year for a hybrid of “masters” and community teams.
One team is North Thurston Public Schools art teachers. Their team has about seven constant workers and others working on and off, for a total of about 20.
The art teachers’ sculpture is going to be a brick wall. The focus of the piece is graffiti and features a young girl in her bedroom on one side, looking through her window to the wall and graffiti on the other side.
Mari Aitken, 15, was there Friday with her mom, one of the art teachers. This is the first year she has been involved.
“It’s a lot of work,” Mari said. “There’s a lot of steps.”
With her was 15-year-old friend Erin Tucker, who said, “It’s much harder than I thought it would be.”
Also on the art teacher team is Marci Waugh, teacher at Chinook Middle School, who said the event is, “way fun.”
She said this is the third year the art teachers have created a sculpture for the competition. They tied for first place their first year and won their second year.
In the past they had the assistance of M. A. Mortenson Co.’s helpful architects and engineers. But this year, Waugh said, they are “relying on friendly strangers.”
Without the help of construction experts, the team is working harder than ever, forming the sand — shaping and compacting it into the desired base shape between wooden bars in a process called “pound up” — themselves.
“This year is totally new for us,” Waugh said. “We’ve had to try new things.”
Waugh said the team sifts their sand to get out all the rocks because the rocks can cause difficulties when carving.
Then they form, pat, pound, shovel, spray, pack, carve and more.
Waugh called the team’s sculpture this year, “a little edgy.”
“Teachers try to promote the importance of art,” she said. “We’re kind of focusing on graffiti and how it can be dangerous but appealing, like how people can really hate it, but it’s a natural thing to want to make marks.”
She said they hoped to be finished by the end of Friday’s session, which was from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., but that she thought it would be an ongoing process.
On Friday, the space surrounding the Hands On Children’s Museum looked like a major construction scene, with shovels, sand, buckets, hoses, wood and many people at work.
“There’s a lot of last minute details, but it’s a lot of fun,” said museum communications manager Jillian Henze.
She said the sand originally came from a company that is no longer in business. All 140 cubic yards of it is kept in a secure location off-site and reused each year.
“We love our sand,” Henze said.
If you go
Sand in the City runs 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday ( Aug. 24) and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.
The sculpting began at 9 a.m. Friday and has to be finished by 7 p.m. Saturday, ready for official public viewing and judging Sunday.